Putin given 'vast power' over European economies says expert
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It comes after European gas prices have soared to record highs and have left the bloc in the face of a gas crisis. Prices soared when Russia decided to decrease the flow of gas travelling into Europe following a deal for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Putin struck a deal to see the new pipeline transit gas from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea, bypassing Poland and Ukraine. But as the pipeline awaits approval from German regulators, Mr Putin ordered a tightening of supplies to avoid EU rules from being applied to the system and to speed up the pipeline’s approval.
Gas prices across Europe have now skyrocketed as supplies decrease and the continent prepares for a cold winter where even more pressure will be put on supplies.
But now, state-owned Russian gas company, Gazprom, has reportedly said that it doesn’t even plan to send more gas via pipelines through Ukraine next month.
Instead, it will send only limited supplies through Poland.
The U-turn comes after Mr Putin said at a Russian Energy Week panel earlier this month that he was ready to meet contractual supply obligations and discuss additional actions and cooperation with its European partners.
He also pointed out that Russia had already increased its gas supplies to Europe by 15 so far this year.
Mr Putin has fiercely denied the claims that Russia is using gas as a geopolitical weapon.
He said: “Even during the hardest parts of the Cold War Russia regularly has fulfilled its contractual obligations and supplies gas to Europe.”
But Mr Putin’s latest has again displayed Moscow’s tight control on the gas market, despite the Kremlin’s agreement to help curb prices.
And while the UK does not receive any gas directly through Russian pipelines, gas is an integrated market.
Britain does also import some Russian pipeline gas via the Netherlands.
And UK gas prices jumped almost 12 percent to 26 percent per therm before falling back to more comfortable prices.
Prices on the Dutch exchange, the European benchmark, rose as much as 15 percent.
Mr Putin’s use of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to control gas prices has threatened tensions with Ukraine.
And after the latest of Gazprom’s gas flow restrictions through its neighbouring country, it has raised even more fears.
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Speaking to Express.co.uk last month, the boss of Ukraine gas giant Naftogaz, Yuriy Vitrenko, said: “The worst-case scenario is that there could be no gas flowing through Ukraine, it would allow him to blackmail Ukraine so could lead to either a full-scale war.
“For example, forget about Crimea, take back Donbass, the occupied regions, but on Putin’s terms, and basically the whole of Ukraine would become part of the Russian world.”
Back in 2014, Russian troops took control of Crimea before annexing the peninsula after the region voted to join the Russian Federation in a disputed local referendum.
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