Russia says to halt all gas supplies to European countries until Western sanctions removed

Russia says gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline will not resume in full until the Western countries reach a collective decision and lift sanctions they have imposed on Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine.

The Monday announcement was made by the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, who blamed EU, UK, and Canadian sanctions for Russia’s failure to deliver gas through the key pipeline, which delivers gas to Germany from St. Petersburg via the Baltic sea, the Financial Times reported.

“The problems pumping gas came about because of the sanctions Western countries introduced against our country and several companies,” Peskov said, according to the Interfax news agency, adding, “There are no other reasons that could have caused this pumping problem.”

“Sanctions that prevent the units from being serviced, that prevent them from being moved without appropriate legal guarantees… it is these sanctions imposed by Western states that have brought the situation to what we see now,” Peskov added.

The Kremlin noted that Moscow “rejects attempts” by the West to “place responsibility and blame” on Russia.

“It is the collective West — in this case the European Union, Canada, and Britain — that is to blame for the situation reaching this point,” Peskov said.

Since Moscow commenced its “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, the United States, Canada, and their European allies have imposed waves of unprecedented sanctions on Russia, despite the Kremlin’s repeated warnings that such measures would only prolong the war.

For its part, Moscow began to significantly reduce its gas deliveries to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, prompting the European Union to strive to boost gas imports from elsewhere amid a worsening energy crisis in the continent.

Peskov’s remarks came after Gazprom, Russia’s state-run gas monopoly, said on Friday that it would halt gas supplies through Nord Stream 1 because of a technical fault, which it blamed on difficulties repairing German-made turbines in Canada.

The company added that the pipeline still needed repairs after “oil leaks” were discovered in a turbine.

The comments by the Kremlin’s spokesman were the starkest demand yet by Moscow that the European bloc rolls back its sanctions in exchange for Russia resuming gas deliveries to the continent.

Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, suspended natural gas flows to Europe via Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Wednesday. Two days later, it said that it would halt gas supplies through the key pipeline because of a technical fault, which it blamed on difficulties repairing German-made turbines in Canada.

The EU has already removed some sanctions against Moscow explicitly to allow the turbines to be repaired. European leaders have also said there is nothing to prevent Gazprom from providing the continent with gas and has accused the Kremlin of “weaponizing” its energy exports.

Russia is still sending gas to Europe via Soviet-era pipelines through Ukraine that has remained open despite the ongoing military operation, as well as the South Stream pipeline via Turkey.

While the EU has accused Russia of cutting supplies in retaliation for the sanctions, Moscow has insisted the sanctions have made the technical maintenance of the pipeline very difficult for the Russian company.

Peskov apparently emphasized on Monday that Russia could not resume supplies in full via Nord Stream 1 until the West removed the sanctions, accusing Western countries of causing “turmoil” by denying Gazprom legal guarantees that the turbines sent for repair would be returned.

“Obviously life is getting worse for people, businessmen, and companies in Europe. Of course, ordinary people in these countries will have more and more questions for their leaders,” Peskov added.

On Sunday, German chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a €65bn aid package to soften the blow of soaring energy bills in the European country, which is preparing itself for a cold winter in the absence of Russian gas.

But former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev was quick to respond, saying Germany was “acting as an enemy of Russia” by supporting sanctions against Moscow and providing Ukraine with weapons.

“They have declared hybrid war against Russia. And this old man acts surprised that the Germans have some little problems with gas,” said Medvedev, who is currently the deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council.

The Kremlin had earlier warned about the future operations of the pipeline that was at risk due to a lack of spare parts.

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