Ukraine President Reports “Gas Blackmail” From Russia

( This week, Russia announced that it would be cutting back on how much natural gas it would export to much of Europe, resulting in Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, to accuse the communist country of participating in “gas blackmail.”

Gazprom, the state-run natural gas company in Russia, said it would reduce daily natural gas flows to roughly half of what it provides to many European countries today.

In addressing the situation on Monday, Zelensky said:

“Even despite the concession regarding the Nord Stream turbine, Russia is not going to resume gas supplies to European countries, as it is contractually obligated to do. All this is done by Russia deliberately to make it as difficult as possible for Europeans to prepare for winter.

“And this is an overt gas war that Russia is waging against a united Europe. This is exactly how it should be perceived. And they don’t care what will happen to the people, how they will suffer — from hunger due to the blocking of ports or from winter cold and poverty … or from occupation. These are just different forms of terror.”

Reuters reported that Gazprom would be reducing its natural gas exports by mid-week. On a daily basis, they would be outputting only 33 million cubic meters, which is roughly 20% of the capacity they have, and roughly 50% less than they were already providing to Europe.

As Zelensky noted, this could severely affect the supplies of natural gas for many European countries in advance of the winter season, which is when natural gas demand always increases.

Following the announcement by Russia, governments in the European Union said they would work to reduce their natural gas consumption over the winter as a way to provide protection against possible future gas cuts by Russia. There are some exemptions for certain countries under the EU agreement.

The agreement will see energy ministers in the EU reduce their natural gas demand by 15% starting in August and lasting through March of next year. The countries involved would voluntarily lower their demand to that level. If the voluntary measures aren’t enough, then the 27-member countries would consider mandatory actions that could bring them down to the level.

Jozef Sikela, the Industry Minister from the Czech Republic, chaired the meeting that was held in Brussels this week. He commented:

“I know that the decision was not easy, but I think, at the end, everybody understands that this sacrifice is necessary. We have to, and we will, share the pain.”

All of this is just another advancement in the back and forth between Russia and western countries following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. The United States and many other countries have put serious sanctions on Russia’s government, their major companies and oligarchs.

Russia has been fighting back by putting limits on how much natural gas they export to European countries that have, before this point, relied almost solely on them for their energy.

Before the war started, Russia supplied all of Europe with roughly 40% of their total natural gas. That number is down to roughly 15%, but it’s still considered vital for overall demand.