Vladimir Putin says gas supply to EU could still be turned on

MOSCOW (Parliament Politics Magazine) – The gas taps could still be opened for Russian supply to the EU, despite severe political differences, says the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Since August, Russia has stopped the gas to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, while the Nord Stream 2 project was suspended after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Gas prices increased as a result of the invasion in February, and this winter EU users will pay record tariffs.

But Mr. Putin’s offer to supply gas via Nord Stream 2 was swiftly rejected by Germany.

However, a government spokesperson in Berlin stated at the same time that Nord Stream 1, which is not subject to sanctions, was still a choice but gas was not flowing “because Russia did not deliver,” they said.

Since the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has faced accusations of using gas supplies as a weapon against the West, a claim that the Kremlin has frequently denied.

At the yearly Russian Energy Week in Moscow on Wednesday, Mr. Putin said, “The ball, as they say, is now in the European Union’s court – let them just open the tap.” 

He said that Moscow was prepared to offer higher volumes of gas during the fall and winter, saying, “We do not limit anyone in anything.”

However, despite Mr. Putin’s statements, it seems improbable that gas supplies to Europe would resume.

Because of the invasion, Nord Stream 2 was stopped, and in recent months, Nord Stream 1 has been severely disrupted:

Mr. Putin called the leaks an “act of international terrorism” at the Moscow forum. However, he asserted that Russia was prepared to restore supply through the portion of Nord Stream 2 that was still intact.

The Russian leader also proposed using Turkey to establish a different European gas hub. Ankara has not yet made a public statement about the situation.

Germany in particular had grown more dependent on Russian gas, as had many other European nations.

David Fyfe, chief economist of research company Argus Media stated that Russia lowered its gas supplies to EU countries by 88% during the course of the previous year.

Over the same time period, he claimed, wholesale prices of gas in Europe have more than doubled.

The EU has already taken a number of steps to address the crisis, including a pan-EU deal to reduce gas consumption by 15%.

This winter, the German government plans to reduce the consumption of lighting and heating in public buildings by 2%.

Similar regulations have already been implemented in Spain, and Switzerland, a non-EU member, is considering doing the same.

Germany depended on Russian gas for 55% of its needs before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It has decreased this to 35% and eventually hopes to eliminate imports completely.

Despite the detrimental effects on the environment, Germany is also increasing its usage of coal and prolonging the life of power plants that were scheduled to close.

Due to the shortages, gas prices have also skyrocketed in the UK, despite the country importing very little gas from Russia.

The London government has taken action to restrict energy price hikes for all households, capping yearly bills at £2,500 until 2024.

Energy ministers from the 27-member EU are debating urgent measures to address the energy crisis on Wednesday in Prague.

Although a gas price cap has been proposed, several nations are reportedly against the idea.