Russia accused of ‘gas blackmail’ after cutting off Poland and Bulgaria 2022-04-26 20:20:57


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Energy officials of the two countries said on Tuesday that Russia will suspend natural gas deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria this week, declaring a significant escalation in economic tension between Moscow and the West over the war in Ukraine.

Russia’s state-controlled gas company, Gazprom, told Poland and Bulgaria – members of NATO and the European Union – that it would halt deliveries from Wednesday, the first such disruption since Russian President Vladimir Putin said “unfriendly countries” would have to Pay for natural gas. In rubles instead of other currencies. European leaders unacceptable Putin asked and accused Gazprom of breaching its contracts.

The European Union relies heavily on Russian natural gas, which heats homes, cooks meals and generates electricity in most of the bloc’s 27 countries. Officials and experts have long worried that the EU is too dependent on Moscow and have warned that the relationship could be used as a weapon. The two countries targeted Tuesday are particularly vulnerable: Poland gets more than 45 percent of its natural gas from Russia and Bulgaria more than 70 percent, according to European Union data.

The Polish state-owned gas company, PGNiG, said Gazprom had sent a letter informing the company of a “complete suspension of delivery” of the Yamal pipeline, which runs from Siberia to Europe. After the announcement, Polish officials insisted that the country had sufficient gas reserves.

“There will be no shortage of gas in Polish homes,” Polish Climate Minister Anna Moskowa, He said on Twitter.

Bulgarian government too She said It secured an alternative gas supply and that there would be no domestic restrictions on consumption.

Ukrainian officials were quick to criticize Gazprom’s decision, saying the move was in retaliation for the European Union’s strong support for Kiev – and in particular Poland, which has been vocal in its support and has been a hub for the flow of arms and supplies to Ukraine. Andrei Yermak, chief of staff of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said that Russia had begun “to blackmail Europe with gas.”

“We see efforts to increase the above and ignore any rules and obligations, which is typical for the Russians.” Yermak said in a post on Telegram. Russia is trying to break the unity of our allies. … That is why the European Union needs to unite and impose a ban on energy resources, depriving the Russians of their energy weapons. “

European energy imports have been a bright spot for years, and have come under renewed scrutiny since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. Russia is still the block main supplier of oil, natural gas and solid fossil fuels, such as coal, Zelensky urged the European Union to scrap “blood money“Payments for energy from Moscow.

The European Union presents a plan to cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds this year, but it does not amount to a boycott

late last year, Amid the worsening energy crisisThe European Union has already been looking for ways to wean itself off its dependence on Russian imports, with some lawmakers accusing the Kremlin of limiting gas supplies to inflate prices and pressure European regulators to speed up approval of the EU. Nord Stream 2 . pipeline.

But imports continued, even as the war in Ukraine grew increasingly brutal, and European leaders leveled heavy criticism at Putin. Last month, the executive arm of the European Union You set an ambitious plan To wean the mass off Russian fossil fuels by 2030, relying instead on other sources and increasing renewable energy production. The proposal falls short of the immediate blanket ban on Russian oil and gas imposed by the United States, but it would cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds this year alone, an exciting move.

“We simply cannot rely on a resource that explicitly threatens us,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the time.

But even a senior committee official He confessed This shift would be “bloody cruel,” accompanied by price increases and potential domestic political turmoil.

Some analysts said on Tuesday that Gazprom’s move could accelerate the severing of ties. Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, called it “another sign of Russia’s politicization of existing agreements,” and predicted that it would “only accelerate European efforts to move away from Russian energy supplies.”

Irinka Hiromutska contributed to this report.