Russia is again pressuring Europe with gas: Gazprom has announced the complete suspension of Nord Stream supplies for three days, from August 31 to September 2. Officially again for technical questions related to “maintenance”, but this is the latest in a long line of stops that have caused major difficulties for EU countries. In fact, it is an energy blackmail used by Moscow in retaliation for Kiev sponsors and sanctions. It is no coincidence that after the new Russian tightening in Amsterdam, the gas price hit a new record, rising to a maximum of EUR 262.78 per megawatt hour (+ 9.04%) and then closing at EUR 244.55. A trend that points to fresh gains when markets reopen on Monday.
Gazprom, the announcement of the stop
On the conflict front, however, you can see some calm in the clouds gathering over Zaporizhia because Vladimir Putin gave the green light for IAEA inspections of the nuclear power plant in a phone call with Emmanuel Macron. But the situation in the area is still worrying, as Kyiv fears that the Russians plan to disconnect the power station from the Ukrainian grid and withdraw the electricity it produces. Gazprom’s announcement in a statement to halt deliveries from the pipeline running through Germany was motivated by the need to “repair the only compressor unit still in operation”. After “the completion of the work and without technical failures of the unit – added the Russian energy giant – gas supplies will resume at a volume of 33 million cubic meters per day”. Whether it’s an actual technical problem or a new political reprisal, Putin is once again in the spotlight with this umpteenth surprise move. In fact, he claims to still have the knife at the side of the handle in the dispute with the West over Ukraine.
The tsar also gave a signal to Zaporizhia, where the risks of an accident with very serious consequences due to the bombing of the plant, of which Moscow and Kyiv accuse each other, are increasing. In a telephone conversation with the head of the Elysée, the Russian head of state gave the green light for inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency at the facility. And most importantly, as the Elysée said at the end of the phone call, he accepted that the inspection team can reach the plant through Ukraine and no longer travel from Russia. However, according to Russian sources from the IAEA, the mission could start in September at the earliest. In any case, the Tsar’s seemingly relaxing gesture (motivated by the need to prevent “a catastrophe on a large scale,” to use Putin’s words) does not raise any alarms at the plant. The Russians, who have controlled it since March, have again rejected calls from the UN and Westerners to demilitarize the area, saying only their defense systems “protect it from disaster”. But CNN showed images of military vehicles parked dangerously in the turbine hall connected to one of the reactors. In addition, Ukraine’s national atomic energy agency, Energoatom, has denounced the occupiers’ plan to isolate the facility by cutting off Ukraine’s power supply. As a gesture of provocation or, as Kyiv has reported in recent days, with the aim of connecting the power plant to Crimea. This process could endanger the cooling system of the reactors in particular. Enough to worry Antonio Guterres: “The current in Zaporizhzhia is Ukrainian, this principle must be fully respected,” underlined the UN Secretary-General, who went to visit Odessa after the trilateral with Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Recep Tayyp Erdogan in Lviv Main port from which departures of ships loaded with grain have now been permanently resumed. The only really good news in almost six months of conflict. Meanwhile, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced in an interview with Bloomberg that both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President will attend the G20 Bali summit scheduled for November. In recent months, Joe Biden had called for Moscow’s expulsion from the G20 in response to the invasion of Ukraine. And several officials in his administration had pressured Widodo not to invite Putin to the summit. Apparently in vain. Among other things, leaders of the Chinese and Russian allies could meet even earlier, on the sidelines of the Central Asia regional summit due to be held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in mid-September, Wall Street Journal reports.