Russia Makes Another Move On The Chessboard–Cuts Off Key Pipeline To Europe
The flow of natural gas through a Russian-controlled pipeline stopped without warning Wednesday as tensions continue to soar between Russia and the West.
Yamal-Europe pipeline’s liquified natural gas flows (LNG) are operated by Russian state-run firm Gazprom and are normally pumped westward from Russia to Germany through Poland. European data shows the gas flows were stopped without warning early Wednesday, signaling a setback after leaders expected the pipeline to return to its normal.
In December 2021, Gazprom slowed the pipeline’s gas flows, then reversed the flow direction from westward to eastward. The sudden reversal sent natural gas prices soaring when prices had already spiked amid a European energy crisis.
Gazprom and the Russian government said that the alteration was a “commercial” decision but assured customers would continue to receive purchased gas. However, geopolitical tensions between Russia and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have increased over the last several weeks, putting Europe’s energy supply at risk.
Russia controls nearly 46% of the European gas imports, according to European Union data.
On Jan. 25, the White House announced it would help facilitate greater non-Russian natural gas flows into Europe from North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the U.S.
“We are collaborating with governments and market operators on supply of additional volumes of natural gas to Europe from diverse sources across the globe,” President Joe Biden said in a joint statement with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Jan. 28. “LNG in the short-term can enhance the security of supply while we continue to enable the transition to net-zero emissions.”