Europe huddles down for a winter without Russian gas


Woolly socks and thermostats turned down a notch: Europeans are preparing for a difficult winter without gas supplies from Russia, part of the fallout from the war in Ukraine.

Latvians have been adjusting since the end of July, when Russia stopped supplying gas to the Baltic former Soviet state.

They know what to expect in the coming months. “Energy prices are so exorbitant that we already cut off the hot water from the city pipeline and installed our own hot water boiler,” said Juons Ratiniks, who lives in the city of Rezekne, near the Russian border.

“It is cheaper to use it when we actually need it than pay for constantly heated hot water,” supplied centrally, the retired border guard explained. Politicians need to understand that people expected help when their energy bill started shooting up, said Ratiniks. With elections due in October, he warned, “they better support heating for us — otherwise we’ll give heat to them!”

Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Poland have also already had their gas cut, while other countries have seen their supply reduced drastically. Deliveries of Russian gas to Germany via the Nord Stream pipeline will be halted for several days at the end of this month, the second stoppage this summer. While ostensibly for maintenance, Berlin has accused Moscow of halting supplies over Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Overall, supply was down in July by around 70 percent, year on year, according to several experts consulted by AFP. Governments around Europe are not relishing the prospect of cold radiators and factories forced to stop operating. Many believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is using energy supplies as a strategic weapon to put pressure on nations that have applied sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

The cut in supply has pushed the price of gas — and electricity — through the roof given that is what many power stations run on. A surge in oil prices has further complicated matters, even if its value has fallen back somewhat recently.—AFP


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