Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started, Europe has been looking closely at its energy receipts. See, in the past, it bought a lot of its energy (mainly gas and oil) from Russia. But during the war, sanctions on Russian oil combined with the understanding that Russia could essentially shut the oil off at any given moment have meant that supply is shaky at best and amoral at worst.
Well, Russia seems to be going for a soft shutdown thing now. It’s shutting down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for what it says are repairs that will last the next three days. This isn’t the first time Russia has shut down the pipeline for “repairs” (they did it in July for 10 days), and Russia has also been operating gas flow into Europe at only about 20% of its capacity.
Leaders in Europe have said that Russia is using energy as leverage in the war since the less Russia sends gas to Europe, the higher gas prices go, and the more likely the region is to deal with shortages as winter rolls in. Still, Russian officials hold that the reason for the decreased supply and the temporary cutoffs is purely based on some technical difficulties on its end.
“I assume that we will be able to cope with it,” Klaus Mueller, the president of Germany’s energy regulator, told Reuters TV. “I trust that Russia will return to 20% on Saturday, but no one can really say.”
“There are guarantees that, apart from technological problems caused by sanctions, nothing hinders the supplies,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday.
“Very clearly Russia is using gas as a weapon of war and we must prepare for the worst case scenario of a complete interruption of supplies,” said France’s Energy Transition Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher.