Russia ‘to determine UK’s winter fate’ after Merkel ‘outsmarted’ by Putin on energy crisis

Merkel ‘under pressure’ to put Nord Stream 2 on hold says expert

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The German Chancellor struck a deal with the Russian President for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to export gas from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea, bypassing Poland and Ukraine. But to avoid Berlin from implementing EU law across the system, Mr Putin has reportedly restricted the flow of gas into Europe that travelled through existing pipelines putting pressure on European gas supplies. This affects the UK, as it imports Russian gas from the Netherlands.

It comes as gas prices are already soaring, with experts warning that central heating could be a “luxury for the rich” this winter.

John Lough, Associate Fellow of the Russia & Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, says Russia has “outmanoeuvred” Germany on Nord Stream 2.

He added: “Now the whole of Europe is paying the price.”

Economic commentator Ambrose Pritchard-Evans has even warned that “Russia will determine Britain’s winter fate”.

He pointed out that the UK has no national strategic storage of gas in reserve, making matters even worse for Britain.

He wrote in the Telegraph: “This Government will have to explain why Britain’s gas storage capacity was slashed to 1.7 percent of annual demand when the global norm is a safety buffer of 20 percent, and why it has subcontracted the task to countries in Continental Europe, now facing their own supply squeeze.”

Gazprom, the state-owned Russian gas company in charge of the pipelines, also chose not to bid for a top-up of flows in October through Nord Stream 2, further hiking up gas prices and posing a threat to European gas supplies.

British energy suppliers have started to collapse and after soaring wholesale gas prices bumped the cost of energy above the price cap.

Two companies, Avro, which supplies gas and electricity to 580,000 customers, while Green serves roughly 255,000 customers in the UK and some customers abroad, have both gone bust in the midst of the energy crisis.

The global energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency (IEA), has called on Russia to export gas more gas to Europe to put an end to the energy crisis.

The Paris-based agency said: “The IEA believes that Russia could do more to increase gas availability to Europe and ensure storage is filled to adequate levels in preparation for the coming winter heating season.

“This is also an opportunity for Russia to underscore its credentials as a reliable supplier to the European market.”

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Around 40 EU politicians have now demanded that the European Commission should investigate the role of Gazprom’s behaviour in causing gas prices in Europe to skyrocket.

Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA, said: “Today’s situation is a reminder to governments, especially as we seek to accelerate clean energy transitions, of the importance of secure and affordable energy supplies – particularly for the most vulnerable people in our societies.”

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has now finished construction and is awaiting approval from German regulators before gas flow can begin.

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