The European Commission has urged countries across the bloc to cut their gas use by 15% from August to March amid fears Russia could halt supplies, reports BBC News. The EC says the target is voluntary but will become legally binding if Moscow turns off the taps this summer.
The key Nord Stream 1 pipeline from Russia to Germany has been offline for maintenance for 10 days and is due to be turned back on this Thursday. But there are concerns Moscow will not follow through on its promise.
Adding to the uncertainty, Vladimir Putin said on July 20 that it was not clear whether or in what condition a turbine from the pipeline would be returned in after repairs in Canada. The Russian president said there was a risk the equipment would have to be switched off at "some point" and Nord Stream 1 would be shut down.
Russia supplied Europe with 40% of its natural gas last year, with Germany the continent's largest importer in 2020, followed by Italy.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said a Europe-wide cut-off was now a likely scenario. "Russia is blackmailing us. Russia is using energy as a weapon," she said.
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