Russia uses its gas and energy resources to ‘blackmail’ Europe, says German economy minister

German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck. Andreas Gora/Getty Images

  • Russia is wielding its energy influence to blackmail Europe, Germany’s economy minister said on Thursday, according to the Financial Times.
  • The Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline returned to service on Thursday, but at 40% capacity, roughly what it was before its maintenance period.
  • “Russia as an energy supplier has become unreliable,” the German official said.
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German Economy Minister and Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck said Russia was using its influence and resources as an energy producer to blackmail Europe and Germany amid the oil and gas crisis. gas resulting from the war in Ukraine.

“Russia as an energy supplier has become unreliable,” Habeck said Thursday, according to the FinancialTimes. “He uses his great power… to blackmail Europe and Germany.”

His comments follow Russia’s decision to resume gas supplies via Nord Stream 1 on Thursday, although EU officials remain skeptical about how long that supply will last or at what capacity.

President Vladimir Putin has previously warned that pipeline deliveries could be further reduced. Even before Nord Stream 1 was closed for maintenance, flows to Europe were moving at only 60% capacity, with Moscow citing technical issues.

At the time, German officials said Russia was “arming” its energy exports to drive up prices.

Habeck argued that bringing the key pipeline back online did not eliminate concerns and noted that only 40% of flows had resumed – which is about the same amount as before the maintenance.

“It is not because 40% of flows have resumed that we should fall asleep in a false sense of security which [supply] will be stable from now on,” Habeck said. “On the contrary, we should expect…that they will find a reason to cut off or reduce gas flow again in the future.”

A commodities analyst said Thursday that Putin does not want Europe to build up its gas reserves before winter and instead aims to keep the continent in a state of panic.

The return of Nord Stream 1 flows, although limited, has eased fears that Russia could cut off supply altogether. European Union politicians have already proposed a 15% reduction in gas consumption it could be mandatory.

European benchmark gas prices rose slightly on Thursday after Nord Stream 1 came back online.

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