Russia will again shut down its Nord Stream pipeline into Germany for what it claims is more maintenance work, even as its previous “maintenance” work continues to leave the pipeline’s flows throttled at 20% of its capacity.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The unexpected move could complicate efforts by Germany and much of Europe to fill gas reserves and stave off widespread rationing to keep its population warm through the long continental winter—and avert factory shutdowns.

Moscow has already throttled back deliveries over the pipeline—its main gas link to Europe—to 20% of its maximum capacity, citing technical issues with its turbines. German and European officials have dismissed these explanations and have called the gas cuts an economic attack in retaliation for supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia.

Russia, and the Soviet Union before it, spent more than a generation building deep energy links into the heart of Europe. Cheap Siberian gas coursed reliably through pipelines for decades into power plants and home furnaces, with billions of dollars returning to Russia. 

But since the months leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has used Russia’s stranglehold on European energy to try to divide the West. His hope, analysts say, is to counter the economic blockade of Russia by forcing financial pain in the other direction, undermining the willingness of European capitals to funnel arms and money to Kyiv.

European leaders expect Russia will keep gas flowing at a low level to toy with the region and create uncertainty. A full cutoff is also possible but would exact a cost on the energy export-dependent Russian economy, which is under strain from Western sanctions. Shutting the flow completely would leave Moscow with no more salvos to potentially fire.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

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