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Russia shuts off major gas pipeline to Europe

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Gas halted across Europe

Russia has completely halted gas supplies to Europe via a major pipeline, saying repairs are needed.

The Nord Stream 1 pipeline will be restricted for the next three days, according to Russian state-owned oil company Gazprom.

Russia had already significantly cut back on pipeline-based gas shipments.

It also denies claims that energy supplies were used to penalise Western countries for enacting sanctions in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

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From the Russian coast at St. Petersburg to northeastern Germany, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline travels 1,200 km (745 miles) under the Baltic Sea.

It started operating in 2011 and has a daily maximum capacity of 170 million cubic metres of gas from Russia to Germany.

The pipeline has recently been functioning at just 20% capacity due to what Russia says as faulty equipment. The pipeline was shut down for 10 days in July, again for maintenance, according to Russia.

European leaders worry that Russia may prolong the disruption in an effort to raise gas prices further, which have already increased by 400%.

Over the winter, the sharp increase in living expenses raises the possibility that governments will be forced to spend billions of dollars to reduce the burden.

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Agnes Pannier-Runacher, the French Minister of Transition for Energy, charged Russia on Tuesday with “using gas as a weapon of war.”

She said after Gazprom announced it would suspend supplying gas to the French energy firm Engie.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has rejected the accusations and insisted that Western sanctions have caused the interruptions by damaging Russian infrastructure.

He insisted that the only thing blocking Russia from supplying gas through the pipeline was “technical problems” brought on by Western sanctions, although he did not elaborate on these issues.

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The most recent controversy was over a turbine that had been repaired in Canada and had just arrived in Germany. Russia refused to accept it back, claiming it was a target of Western sanctions.

Gas pipeline across Europe

However, Germany denies this.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck declared earlier this month that there were no technical problems, contrary to what Russia claimed, and that the pipeline was completely operating.

President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, pledged earlier this week to intervene in the energy markets, claiming that they are “no longer fit for purpose” while speaking at a conference in Slovenia.

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“We need a new market model for electricity that really functions and brings us back into balance,” she said.

The BBC reported last week that a factory close to the Finnish border is where Russia is reportedly burning off $10 million (£8.4 million) worth of gas per day.

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