Russia said it would further reduce natural-gas supplies to Europe this week, lobbing another volley in its economic war with the West and raising new questions about Europe’s ability to avoid shutting down factories and leaving homes cold this winter.
Russian state-owned energy producer Gazprom PJSC said gas exports through the vital Nord Stream pipeline to Germany would drop to about a fifth of the pipe’s capacity, blaming sanctions-related problems with turbines that have already reduced flows. The fresh reduction in the pipeline’s capacity—from 40% currently to 20%—is expected to take effect Wednesday, Gazprom said.
Wholesale European gas prices jumped 12% Monday to 179 euros, or about $183, a megawatt-hour. They have more than doubled so far this year and are expected by analysts to keep rising as winter approaches, adding to inflation that is straining economies, governments and financial markets in the region.
European officials and analysts say Russia President Vladimir Putin is weaponizing gas deliveries, aiming to retaliate for economic sanctions imposed on Russia and weaken the West’s resolve to give military and financial assistance to Ukraine. By keeping some gas flowing, they say, Moscow is keeping Europe guessing and maximizing the leverage it has over Europe’s energy security to sow political fissures.