Putin red-faced as Russia is ‘self-sanctioning’ with EU gas blackmail | World | News


Vladimir Putin‘s Kremlin is threatening to double down on its energy blackmail on the European Union with the upcoming closure of Nord Stream 1 – a pipeline that feeds the bloc with gas – which is set to close from August 31 to September 2, energy giant Gazprom announced. As EU countries have been filling up their gas storage ahead of winter, European leaders are growing concerned the suspension could go beyond the September 2 deadline, leaving the EU without enough gas to go through winter. Dr Benjamin Schmitt, a former European Energy Security Advisor at the US Department of State, says repeated energy threats could ultimately backfire on Russia‘s economy and energy revenues.

Dr Schmitt told Express.co.uk: “To a great extent, Russia is almost self-sanctioning itself right now with its cuts, right? You talk about a bluff and when it’s cutting Nord Stream 1 by 80 percent, that’s putting pressure on the EU but at the same time, the EU is as quickly as possible reorienting to that reality.

“And as time goes on, the EU will get to a point where it can and should end these projects for good. It should not give a pass to Putin’s Kremlin to continue these projects that have had a harmful impact in terms of exporting.”

Given its lack of clients outside the European market, Dr Schmitt noted “Russia does not really have many options” when it comes to its gas use. “If it’s cutting off its natural gas, it either has to flare it or start capping wells at the side of production. And that can damage the wells and make them less effective, less efficient down the road.”

For now, it appears Russian energy giant Gazprom has chosen to waste large volumes of gas by burning it near the Finnish border. Rystad, an energy consultancy based in Norway, estimates the amount of gas being burnt off equates to about 0.5 percent of daily EU needs.

“The quicker that the European Union takes steps that allow it to seek joint sanctions that end these projects for good, the better,” Dr Schmitt insisted.

With the EU diversifying away from Russian energy, Dr Schmitt says, Russia could lose revenues from the European market and hurt its own economy. In the long run, Russia could lose the totality of its energy revenues from the EU – reducing its capacity to fund its war chest.

“It’s going to take a long time structurally for Russia to ever pivot to other markets on the natural gas front,” Dr Schmitt said. “I think part of that is going to be to what extent does it have access to western technologies that it needs – energy technologies – to make that happen on a faster basis.”

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