EU Council calls for 'unity' as Russia cuts Nord Stream gas supply to 20%

EU Council calls for 'unity' as Russia cuts Nord Stream gas supply to 20%
Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Credit: Belga

The EU Council called for "unity" after Russian energy giant Gazprom announced on Monday that it will reduce gas flows to Europe through a pipeline to 20%, citing repair problems.

The new drastic cut in gas supplies announced by Gazprom is "further proof" that Europe must "reduce its dependence as soon as possible on Russian supplies," said the Czech Minister of Energy, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.

"Unity and solidarity are the best weapons we have against (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and I'm sure that's what we'll show today," said Jozef Sikela, ahead of a meeting in Brussels with EU counterparts to agree on a plan to reduce gas consumption in the EU.

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Gazprom's announcement increases fears that Russia will use gas as a political tool over the war in Ukraine as Europe is saving energy for winter.

Gas deliveries were only running at 40% of capacity after the Nord Stream 1 pipeline reopened last week after ten days of maintenance. The German government said it rejected the idea that technical issues were the cause for more gas reductions.

Taking steps away from Russian gas

The move from Gazprom came after some Member States pushed back on the Commission's proposal to reduce gas consumption by 15% last week.

Russia has already cut or reduced gas supplies to a dozen member states. However, Spain and Portugal have already said that they will reject obligatory cuts, stressing that its use of Russian gas is far below countries such as Germany and Italy.

Last week, Italy signed a deal with Algeria worth $4 billion to make it its largest gas supplier, a position previously held by Russia.

Germany has relied on Russia for a third of its gas supplies until recently. The government of Europe's biggest economy said that last week's drop in gas flow to Germany meant that the country cannot rely on Russia, confirming that it would boost its gas storage and take action to conserve energy.

Nonetheless, EU diplomats have been working to unify the EU ahead of an emergency meeting on energy on Tuesday.

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