Oct 23, 2021 08:33 UTC
  • Ukraine accuses Russia of 'gas aggression', calls for EU action

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Moscow of orchestrating an energy crisis in Europe by raising gas prices, calling on Brussels to work with Kiev against what he characterized as Russian “gas aggression.”

Europe is grappling with an energy crisis triggered by gas price hikes to record highs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Western critics have pointed the finger at Russia for the crisis, accusing Moscow of refraining from raising deliveries in order to pressure Europe to agree to more long-term contracts and advance the Nord Stream 2 pipeline transferring natural gas from Russia to Germany.

“We are witnessing an artificial crisis, which has a clear goal: to force Europe to give up its values,” the Ukrainian president said on Friday.

“Russia has enough gas but under contrived pretexts refuses to increase supplies to Europe. As a result, gas prices have skyrocketed and shutdowns of industrial enterprises in Europe have begun," Zelensky said. 

“There is a real gas aggression against the European Union,” he added.

Zelensky said only a “coordinated” response by the European governments would see more moderate prices restored.

Zelensky, a long-standing critic of Russia, referred to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline earlier in the year as a “dangerous geopolitical weapon” that would make Europe reliant on Moscow.

The Ukrainian leader also claimed on Friday that Russia “has repeatedly tried to freeze Ukraine, shutting off gas and demanding concessions that would damage Ukrainian national interests.”

“Now it is Europe’s turn to get themselves acquainted with the concept of gas war.”

Zelensky’s accusations came after Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month blamed “systemic flaws” in the European energy market for the crisis and said Russia was prepared to turn on the taps for any country that asks.

Nord Stream 2 is an international project for the construction of a gas pipeline that is set to bring Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea bypassing transit states such as Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and other Eastern European states.

The new 745-mile-long pipeline, which is set to double Moscow's annual gas export capacity in the Baltic to 110 billion cubic meters, traverses the economic zones and territorial waters of five countries, namely Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany.

Russia says the project could provide relief to the European gas market, which has been grappling with tight supplies and soaring prices.

However, the United States is strongly against the project, claiming that the pipeline will increase Europe's reliance on Russian energy.

Earlier in May, the US administration imposed sanctions against 13 ships and three Russian organizations involved in the project. Unlike the US, Germany considers Nord Stream 2 as an economic project and supports it.

MG

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