Putin warns EU that gas supplies could be cut further

Russian leader said flow of natural gas to Europe could fall from 60 million to 30 million cubic metres a day

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Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed the West on Tuesday for the dwindling flow of Russian natural gas to European customers and warned that supplies could continue to decrease.

Mr Putin's comments led to greater fears in the EU that Russia could cut off gas to wreak economic and political havoc in Europe during winter.

The amount of gas pumped through the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany will fall from 60 million to 30 million cubic metres a day, or about a fifth of its capacity, if a turbine was not quickly replaced, he said.

Mr Putin was speaking in Tehran, where he was attending talks with presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Ebrahim Raisi of Iran.

He said Russia could launch the recently completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which has not been used, but that it would have only half of its designated capacity because the rest has been used for domestic needs.

Mr Putin also warned the West that its plan to cap the prices of Russian oil as part of its sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine would destabilise the global oil market and make prices soar.

“We are hearing some crazy ideas about restricting the volumes of Russian oil and capping the Russian oil price,” he said. “The result will be the same — a rise in prices. Prices will skyrocket.”

Since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February, the EU has approved bans on Russian coal and most oil to take effect this year, but did not include natural gas because the 27-nation bloc depends on it to power factories, generate electricity and heat homes.

However, Russia’s Gazprom state-controlled natural gas giant reduced gas deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany by 60 per cent last month, claiming there were technical problems after a turbine that Siemens sent to Canada for overhaul could not be returned because of sanctions.

Canada and Germany made a deal to return the turbine, but Mr Putin said on Tuesday that Gazprom had not received the relevant documents.

He said that Gazprom was to shut another turbine for repairs in late July, and if the one that was sent to Canada was not returned by that time the flow of gas would ebb even more.

As another reason for the supply reduction, he said Ukraine closed a branch of a transit pipeline carrying Russian gas to the West through territory controlled by Moscow-based separatists.

A view shows gas compressor station in Mallnow, Germany, July 11, 2022.  The compressor station has stopped receiving Russian gas through the Yamal-Europe pipeline, which transits Belarus and Poland, since Russian operator Gazprom in May had discontinued usage of the Poland section. EPA
Updated: July 20, 2022, 4:50 AM