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The Big Picture

Russia's Gas Weapon Explained

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  • The sharp cut in flows via the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany last week — while officially technical in nature — suggests Russia is weaponizing its gas supply amid the EU’s deepening embrace of Ukraine.
  • Moscow’s aims likely include provoking division on sanctions and Ukraine policies, amplifying Europe’s price pain, undermining EU storage aims for the winter, and simply keeping the EU off-balance.
  • But a complete cutoff still looks unlikely: Tactical, temporary disruptions better serve Moscow’s interests, giving it more political leverage and export revenues.

The timing of Gazprom’s move to cut Nord Stream flows to 40% of normal levels was likely no accident: It coincided with a high-profile visit to Kyiv on Jun. 16 by the German, French and Italian leaders, amid advancing talks for Ukraine to join the EU. “My colleagues and I came here to Kyiv today with a clear message: Ukraine belongs to the European family,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared. On Jun. 17, the European Commission said Ukraine should be given candidate status to join the EU, which could be approved at a Jun. 23-24 summit.

Topics:
Military Conflict, Sanctions, Security Risk , Gas Supply, Gas Prices, Gas Pipelines, Ukraine Crisis
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