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Russia resumes ‘unstable’ gas supplies to Europe via Nord Stream

Germany, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas, had feared that Moscow would not reopen the Nord Stream 1 pipeline

Russia on Thursday restored critical gas supplies to Europe through Germany via the Nord Stream pipeline after 10 days of maintenance, but suspicion lingered that the Kremlin would trigger an energy crisis on the continent this winter.

Germany, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas, had feared that Moscow would not reopen the pipeline after the scheduled work and accused Moscow of using energy as a “weapon”.

Klaus Mueller, head of Germany’s energy regulator, said gas flows were on track to return to 40 percent of the pipeline’s capacity — the same reduced level as before the maintenance work.

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German Economy Minister Robert Habeck angrily dismissed Russian claims that it was a guarantor of Europe’s energy supply, saying that Moscow had become a growing “insecurity factor” in the sector.

Enduring German reliance on Russian gas coupled with alarming signals from Moscow have turned up the pressure on Europe’s top economy.

Even the resumption of 40 percent of supplies would be insufficient to ward off energy shortages in Europe this winter, experts warned.

“We must therefore prepare for a winter without Russian gas. This means that saving gas must be at the centre of all political efforts.”

– ‘Will fulfil’ –

The turbine is reportedly en route to Russia and expected to arrive on Sunday at the earliest. The German government has rejected Gazprom’s explanation as an “excuse”, noting that the turbine was one of several available.

“Any technical difficulties linked to this are caused by those restrictions that European countries introduced themselves,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, dismissing blackmail accusations as “completely” unfounded.

He warned, however, that as another gas turbine was due to be sent for maintenance at the end of this month, energy flows could fall to 20 percent of capacity from next week.

As of Wednesday, German gas reserves were about 65 percent of capacity according to official estimates. Habeck said he was setting targets to boost the level to between 90 and 95 percent by November.

In addition to boosting its gas reserves, Germany is implementing plans to temporarily revert to more coal power, will mandate energy savings in public buildings and impose new rules for efficiency in heating homes and offices.

However Greece said that it was joined by Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Malta and Cyprus in opposing the EU’s plan, arguing that they were far less dependent on Russian gas than Germany.

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