Gas or gaslighting? Ukraine accuses Russia of weaponizing energy resources

The head of Ukraine’s state-controlled energy corporation Naftogaz is calling on Washington and Berlin to take decisive action against Russia, accusing the country of using its natural gas as a geopolitical weapon.

The announcement comes amid a growing energy crisis in Europe ahead of the winter season, and shortly after the US and the International Energy Agency urged Russia to pump more gas to the region to ease the deepening supply crunch.

Benchmark European gas prices have soared by more than 250% since the beginning of the year, while benchmark power contracts in France and Germany have doubled.

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“This is a very clear sign that they are using gas as a geopolitical weapon at the moment,” Naftogaz CEO Yuriy Vitrenko told CNBC, accusing Russian energy major Gazprom of deliberately withholding gas supplies from Europe.

The former energy minister also accused Gazprom of blocking access to the Ukrainian gas transmission system for other Russian companies, as well as cutting exports from Central Asia that could go to Ukraine via Russian territory.

Vitrenko expressed hope that the US will reinstate sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG, Gazprom’s Swiss-registered subsidiary, which is working on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Energy Ministry said that Russia is fully compliant with its gas supply obligations to Europe, stressing that there’s no need for the state to intervene in the situation with gas prices.

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Yamal - Europe gas pipeline facilities in Ciechanow, Poland, April 20, 2021.
Germany says Russia is fulfilling its obligations under European gas supply agreements

“According to our information, Russia is fulfilling the existing supply agreements… We do not know about the deliberate disregard of the existing contracts,” the ministry’s spokeswoman Suzanne Ungrad said earlier this week.

Gazprom previously announced it was ready to supply Europe with natural gas via the recently completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline. However, deliveries cannot begin before the project is certified by the EU regulators. The procedures could reportedly last into next year.

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