Russia cuts back on gas supply AGAIN to Europe on Wednesday, as the “gas war” between Moscow and the European Union further escalates. This will cause an especially challenging for the EU as the winter heating season is fastly approaching.

Russian gas company, Gazprom, has drastically reduced the capacity of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany earlier this week, claiming the disruption was caused by a maintenance issue. However, Germany said upon investigation that it saw no technical reason for the latest reduction of just 20 percent or capacity, which led the EU to conclude that the Kremlin was sabotaging the supply in exchange for the West’s economic blow following the “special military operations” in Ukraine.

Nord Stream 1 is a major gas link between Russia and Europe, accounting for approximately a third of gas exports between the nations.

Russia’s “gas blackmail” against Europe

Moscow responded to the “energy blackmail” accusations of the EU, stating that Europeans have brought this suffering upon themselves due to the economic sanctions they imposed on Russia.

Gazprom initially reduced the gas exports through the route by 60 percent last month, citing an alleged technical issue because it is yet to receive its Siemens turbine that was “sent to Canada for overhaul and couldn’t return due to imposed sanctions,” according to AP News.

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Map of Nord Stream pipelines connecting Germany to Russia. (Image source: Gazprom/BBC)

In response, Canada has approved the turbine delivery for the said compressor station at the pipeline’s Russian end to Germany. However, when European politicians demanded an explanation from Germany, the latter’s government said that the turbine in question was not meant to be used until September. Nonetheless, the export resumed last week but with a reduced capacity due to continuing repairs.

The latest cutback was another “gas blackmail” against Europe, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during his nightly address Wednesday, adding that how this will only get worse every month as this is a needed tactic “by a terrorist state to make the life of every European worse,” which includes poverty, hunger, or freezing winter.

“The crises created by Russia are hitting the whole world and no one will be able to stay away when Russia wreaks havoc in the food market, in the energy markets, or simply in international relations,” Zelensky said in an earlier televised address on Monday. “And that’s why we need to beat back.”

He continued: “Don’t think about how to return some turbine or other but strengthen sanctions. Do everything to limit Russian income not only from gas and oil but also from any export that still remains. And to sever trade ties with Russia as much as possible, because every such tie is a potential means of pressure for Russia.”

EU urges ‘energy saving.’

EU countries have since taken action by passing “a weakened emergency plan to curb gas demand after striking compromise deals to limit cuts for some countries,” Reuters reported, adding that the lower consumption will ease the impact in case the Kremlin full closes the gas valves altogether.

And if the worst-case scenario comes, European citizens will have difficulty keeping themselves warm during the winter months. It will also affect its already weak economic growth, especially for Germany, who’s at the edge of the recession cliff. Thus, rationing and energy saving are highly urged to citizens, or they will have to resort to a more polluting fuel alternative.

Currently, Germany is already at Phase 2 out of its three-stage emergency gas plan. In its final phase, if rationing can no longer be avoided, the government’s “supply to the industry is curtailed first, while households and critical institutions such as hospitals continue to receive available gas.

Since the crisis began, European gas prices have risen to two percent following the Russia-Ukraine war on February 24, BBC News reported. While the United Kingdom is technically not directly impacted by the gas disruption—it only imports less than five percent from Russia—the Brits would still feel the repercussions of price increase in the global market. UK gas has gone up to 7 percent as of Wednesday, six times higher than a year ago.

With this coming, both US and Brussels have been pleading with EU members to save gas and store it for winter as early as possible by reducing consumption by 15 percent between August and March next year.

The US has already voiced its concern regarding the Russia-Europe gas pipeline, warning Europe that it could only increase its gas dependency on Russia. But Germany insisted that “the pipeline was a purely commercial project and that it could serve as an energy bridge as it phased out nuclear and coal,” CNN reported, thus the US issuing a wavier to allow the project to move forward.

Now, frustrated by how lengthy the aggression is taking with Ukraine and the West supplying the military aid, Russians are “lashing out” and trying to “destabilize Europe” by severing its gas supply.

Russia is the world’s second-largest natural gas exporter next to Saudi Arabia.