|Russia reopens Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline again|
This step is considered to eliminate fears of stopping retaliatory gas shipments from Moscow. "It's working," said a Nord Stream spokesman, without specifying the amount of gas delivered. According to data provided by Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom to Gascade, the operator of the German line, 530 gigawatt hours (GWh) will be delivered during the day. "This is only 30 percent of its capacity," wrote Klaus Mueller, president of Germany's energy regulator, the Federal Network Agency on Twitter. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline under the Baltic Sea has been closed since July 11 for annual maintenance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated that gas deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline will restart once maintenance is complete. However, Putin also warned that flows might be restricted unless disputes over the sanctioned parts were resolved. Gazprom cut flows to Germany via the vital Nord Stream 1 pipeline by about 40 percent last month. Authorities blame the absence of a Siemens gas turbine undergoing repairs in Canada. The German government rejected Gazprom's explanation and feared that Moscow would not reopen the pipeline after the scheduled work, in retaliation for Western sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The European Commission on Wednesday urged EU countries to reduce demand for natural gas by 15 percent over the coming months to secure winter stockpiles and defeat Russian "blackmail".
The European Union (EU) commissioner also asked member states to give Brussels special powers to impose mandatory energy rationing if Russia cuts off European gas lines. "Russia is blackmailing us," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters. “Russia is using energy as a weapon and therefore, in any case, whether it is a major cut off of Russian gas or a complete cut off… Europe must be ready.”
A complete halt to imports or a sharp reduction in east-to-west flows could have a catastrophic impact on the European economy, closing factories and forcing households to reduce temperatures. Last year, the Guardian reported, Russia accounted for about 40 percent of total EU gas imports and further disruption to supply would also push consumer prices higher and increase the risk of a deep recession.
The reactivation of the pipeline comes after comments from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggesting that the Kremlin's goals have expanded over the course of the five-month war. Sergey Lavrov told state news agency RIA Novosti on Wednesday (20/7/2022) that Russia's military "duties" in Ukraine now extend beyond the eastern Donbas region.