Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Germany: Russia curbs gas supply; retaliation for murder verdict?

 No more gas is flowing from Russia via Belarus to Germany since sunday. Some experts see this as an expression of disapproval by the Kremlin for the murder verdict against the russian hitman that killed a chechen individual in Berlin in 2019 and the restive attitude of newly appointed foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, writes BILD:

He did it again!

Russian President Vladimir Putin (69) has turned off the gas. Since Sunday, no more Russian gas has flowed to Germany via Belarus and Poland.

▶ ︎ “For commercial reasons”, as they say from Moscow, but experts see a different reason for turning the gas tap on again in the direction of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The Poles were the first to notice last Friday that something was wrong with the gas deliveries via the Yamal pipeline of the Russian state-owned company Gazprom. At around 5 a.m., the pressure in the pipeline dropped, initially by only about ten percent, and then by another 90 percent on Saturday morning.

On Sunday, the gas stop hit Germany at full speed. In Mallnow, Brandenburg, no more Russian gas has been arriving since around 11 a.m.

Even more: since Tuesday morning, gas stored in Germany has been flowing back east from Russia to supply the Polish market. And that despite German gas storage at record minimum levels for mid-December. The tanks are currently only 56 percent full, a year ago today it was 77 percent.

And winter has only just begun ...

But are there really only “commercial reasons” for the second stop in gas delivery via Yamal since the beginning of November, as Gazprom claims? The timing of the delivery interruption leaves experts in doubt.

▶ ︎ Russia expert Sergej Sumlenny, long-time office manager of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Kiev and back in Berlin for a few months, told BILD that it could be the trigger "for such measures against what the Kremlin classifies as 'unfriendly behavior'" the Tiergarten murder verdict last Wednesday.

The Eastern Europe expert on BILD: "It is clear that Putin was angry after the verdict - the choice of words of the Russian Foreign Ministry shows that. Not only the verdict itself, but above all the clear statement by Annalena Baerbock were, in his view, a rebellion against that well-established submissive behavior of their predecessor. According to Putin, something like this should not be tolerated and must therefore be punished immediately. "

"The throttling of gas deliveries," said Sumlenny, is one of Russia's "punitive measures" that "were used against Ukraine a few years ago and are now being used against Germany."

▶ ︎ Even the Polish foreign policy expert Slawomir Debski from the state “Polish Institute for International Affairs” does not believe that the reduction in gas deliveries to Poland and Germany is a coincidence.

Debski told BILD that reducing gas deliveries was "a Russian tactic to put pressure on Europe". The use of “gas as a weapon” is “part of their hybrid offensive against the EU and the USA. They want us to know that we are dependent on them. Especially when critical decisions are pending or you are dissatisfied with our policy ”.

▶ ︎ In response to a BILD request, a Gazprom spokesman disagreed. He let it be known: "Gazprom delivers gas according to customer requirements in full compliance with current contractual obligations."

On the European gas market, the renewed throttling of Russian gas supplies to Poland and Germany led to turbulence and an explosion in the gas price at the trading point for natural gas in the Netherlands.

The gas price at the trading point has risen by a staggering 37 percent since Saturday, the first day Gazprom cut gas deliveries. Traders had to pay more than 1,700 euros per 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas on Tuesday afternoon. An increase of more than 1,000 percent compared to March this year.

For German consumers, too, Russia's power games with the gas that is supposedly safely delivered to Germany are becoming more and more expensive.

▶ ︎ According to the “Check24” price comparison portal, 846 basic gas suppliers have increased their prices by an average of 31.6 percent since August of this year. 3.6 million households are now affected by the price increases averaging 476 euros per year (for a model household).

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