Russia halting natural gas supply to Germany, France

Russia’s state-owned energy company, Gazprom, has shut down its gas pipeline connecting Russia to Germany. While Moscow claims the cutoff is a temporary development required for maintenance, the move is raising fears about Europe’s fuel supply with winter approaching.

In a statement, Gazprom said operations through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline would be halted through Friday because of scheduled maintenance on a gas compressor unit.

“Upon the completion of maintenance operations, provided that no malfunctions are identified, gas transmissions will be resumed,” the company said.

German officials called the shutdown a “technically incomprehensible” decision and likely a scheme for the Kremlin to use its energy supplies as a weapon. The head of the country’s energy regulation department, known as the Federal Network Agency (FNA), said Moscow “makes a political decision after every so-called maintenance,” according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

“We’ll only know at the beginning of September if Russia does that again,” FNA chief Klaus Mueller said.

Germany isn’t the only European country facing energy threats from Russia. On Tuesday, Gazprom said it would completely shut down gas supplies to Engie, the French industrial energy group, over a contract dispute.

“Gazprom Export did not receive the full payment for gas that had been supplied to France’s Engie in July under the existing contracts,” it said in a statement.

The suspension of gas to France will commence on Thursday and continue “until the payments for the supplied gas are received in full,” Gazprom said.

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