Germany accuses Russia of power play over gas supply

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Germany is accusing Moscow of engaging in what it calls “power play” after the Russian state-run Gazprom halved the amount of natural gas flowing through a major pipeline from Russia to Europe — to 20% capacity.

It is the latest Nord Stream 1 reduction that Russia has blamed on technical problems including repairs to a turbine, but Germany says the move is a political one — resulting in uncertainty and pushing up prices even more.

“The turbine is there. It has been serviced,” says Christiane Hoffman, a spokesperson for the German government. “Our Canadian partners have agreed to the delivery. We are very grateful for that. So from our point of view, there is nothing standing in the way of transporting the turbine to Russia.”

“What we are seeing here is actually a power play and we won’t let ourselves be impressed by that.”

The European Union has been preparing itself for such cutbacks from Russia, drawing up contingency plans — 12 EU countries are subject to partial or complete interruptions of Russian gas, and there’s concern among governments that the Kremlin could retaliate further in response to sanctions by shutting off the supply completely.

On Tuesday, the EU agreed a plan to reduce gas consumption by 15% this winter to break its dependence on Russia.