The EU Commission President said Russia is “blackmailing” the EU and “using energy as a weapon”. She told reporters in Brussels: “We have to prepare for a full disruption of Russian gas. This is a likely scenario.
“We have learned our lesson from the pandemic. We know that in such a crisis our worst enemy is fragmentation. If we act in unity, we can address any crisis.”
Asking EU residents to reduce gas consumption, she added: “I know this is a big ask, for the whole of the EU. But it is necessary to protect us.”
The Commission is proposing an emergency mechanism to shut down all non-essential industries.
“Russia sees gas as a political weapon, so Europe must have a political response,” von der Leyen added.
“It’s not easy to see what Putin’s next move will be, but that he will continue to try and divide us and hurt us is clear.”
Mrs von der Leyen said a full cut-off of Russian gas flows to Europe is “a likely scenario”.
Speaking alongside her, Commissioner Timmermans said: “We believe the situation is urgent enough to invoke Article 122.
“We’re calling on member states to make voluntary cuts now, we also need the possibility for mandatory demand reduction if the situation gets worse.”
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The pipeline, which accounts for more than a third of Russian natural gas exports to the European Union, was halted for ten days of annual maintenance on July 11.
The Russian sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, told Reuters the pipeline was expected to resume operation on time, but at less than its capacity of some 160 million cubic metres (mcm) per day.
Kremlin-controlled energy giant Gazprom, cut gas exports through the route to 40 percent capacity last month, citing delays in the return of a turbine Siemens Energy was servicing in Canada.