France has accused Russia of using energy supplies as “a weapon of war” after Russia’s gas company, Gazprom (GAZP.MM) cut deliveries to a major French customer and said it would shut its main gas pipeline to Germany for three days this week.
European nations are trying to coordinate a response to soaring energy costs for businesses and households and to fill storage facilities ahead of peak demand in the winter.
The West fears that Moscow is deliberately driving up gas prices to try to weaken their opposition to the Russia war in Ukraine, a tactic Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy dubbed “economic terrorism”.
Nord Stream 1, the main conduit for Russian gas into Europe, has become a flash point in the dispute.
Europe faces a further squeeze on gas supplies this week as Gazprom shuts off the pipeline for ‘maintenance’ from Wednesday till the early hours of Saturday.
Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday, August 30, tyw5 technological problems caused by Western sanctions on Russia are the only thing standing in the way of supplying gas via Nord Stream 1 to European nations which are hevaily reliant on Russian gas.
But France’s Energy Transition Minister, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, dismissed the claim, saying:
“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.”
Speaking to France Inter radio after French utility Engie (ENGIE.PA), shesaid France receive less gas from Gazprom from Tuesday because of an unspecified contractual dispute.
Russia has been pumping gas via Nord Stream 1 at only 20% of capacity and there are fears that this week’s outage could be extended.
Asked if there are guarantees that Gazprom will restart gas flows via Nord Stream 1, the Kremlin’s Peskov said: “There are guarantees that, apart from technological problems caused by sanctions, nothing hinders the supplies.”