What is the truth of the gas war between Russia and the European Union?
Moscow – Signs of a new escalation between the European Union and Russia were borne out by the statements of Margrethe Vestager, Vice President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Antitrust, in which she accused Russia of artificially inflating demand for gas, monopolizing and manipulating blue fuel prices, which, according to her, led to an energy crisis in European continent.
Vestager’s comments coincided with statements by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in which he accused Russia of “cynical manipulation” in the European energy market.
The head of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, also joined the media campaign against the “Gazprom” company, accusing it of causing record price hikes, threatening the collapse of large sectors of the European economy, and plunging millions of Europeans into the crisis of the high cost of living.
But “Gazprom” rejected the accusations, and said that its shipments to the European Union countries in the fall of 2021 increased compared to the same period the previous year, and that all contractual obligations had been fully fulfilled, which was confirmed by the European Commission and several countries in the European Union with the arrival of all supplies Agreed upon between the two sides, according to a company statement.
Since the beginning of last year, the price of gas in Europe has increased by more than 3 and a half times, and on September 20 last the cost of fuel exceeded $900 per thousand cubic meters.
As a result, authorities in a number of European countries have had to compensate consumers. Sweden was the last country to announce gas subsidies for its residents, and allocated 6 billion kronor (661 million dollars) to support families most affected by high energy bills.
Russian observers explain the reasons for the price jump with obstacles to the issuance of new certificates for the gas pipeline “Nord Stream 2”, high carbon prices in Europe, and a sharp increase in demand for gas in Asia, as the economy recovers from the Corona virus pandemic, and finally, the depletion of gas reserves in European storage facilities.
But the conflicting statements and the exchange of accusations between the two sides also come at a time of rising geopolitical tensions, amid European talk about a link between the half-empty gas storage facilities in the countries of the European Union and the escalation of the conflict over Ukraine, and the possibility of new additional sanctions against Moscow and the application of fines against “Gazprom” “.
It is important to note, in this context, that the Spanish newspaper POLITICO revealed the existence of a “secret” plan devised by Madrid, based on the start of the European Commission and the International Energy Agency to launch a coordinated attack against “Gazprom” to force it to change its behavior in the market. The Russian company covers about 40% of its needs, to ensure that the European Union does not turn in the future into a hostage to Moscow and a “slave” of Russian gas.
Search for Washington
Energy expert Valdis Plavich believes that it is impossible to accuse “Gazprom” of monopolizing and manipulating the cost of gas in Europe, because it would not be possible at that time to increase the volume of supplies if the partners were not willing to buy it, especially since Russia is in dire need of increasing its hard currency income. facing the economic crisis it is experiencing.
He asserts that most European countries want Russia to supply them with natural gas because it is cheap and abundant, but for geopolitical reasons, the United States does not want this to contribute to the growth of the Russian economy.
He continues that Washington is using the European Union countries hostile to Moscow, specifically the Baltic states and Poland, to delay or cancel new Russian gas projects to Europe, projects demanded by countries such as Italy, Greece and Bulgaria.
For his part, economic analyst Victor Lachon does not rule out a confusion between economic interests and geopolitical considerations in the issue of Russian gas supply to Europe. In his view, statements by European officials deliberately ignore the importance of “Nord Stream 2”, because it constitutes a vital interest for Russia, even though it is leading Europe out of the energy crisis.
In his opinion, the European Union is also politicizing the gas file by linking Russia’s desire to supply Germany with gas directly under the Baltic Sea with its behavior towards Ukraine.
Hence, Lashon does not rule out that one of the reasons for Gazprom’s reluctance to increase natural gas supplies to Europe is; Is to obtain the necessary license to operate the “Nord Stream 2” tube.
In his opinion, the differences between Moscow and Brussels over the amount of geopolitics and the economy of Russian gas supplies to Europe will not be negotiable in the foreseeable future, with the ongoing “saga” around the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is now subject to a long and painful testimonial by German regulators, and the constant threat of new US sanctions.