The sanctions on Moscow and Russian companies have created problems with equipment maintenance, a senior Kremlin said, though that claim has been denied by Western governments and engineers.
Western sanctions on Russia over its war in Ukraine are to blame for stoppages in Moscow’s supply of natural gas to Europe, a senior Kremlin official claimed Monday.
In some of the bluntest comments yet on the standoff between Moscow and Western Europe over energy supplies, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said problems with pumping the gas occurred “because of the sanctions.”
“Other reasons that would cause problems with the pumping don’t exist,” Peskov claimed.
The sanctions on Moscow and Russian companies have created problems with equipment maintenance, he said, though that claim has been denied by Western governments and engineers.
Russian energy company Gazprom announced Friday that a suspension of gas supplies heading westwards through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline would be extended indefinitely because oil leaks in turbines need fixing.
That move brought a surge in European natural gas prices and walloped global stock markets.
High energy prices and possible shortages this winter in Western Europe have set alarm bells ringing among governments, notably those in the European Union.
Peskov laid the blame for the disruption firmly at the door of the sanctions, which he claimed have prevented machinery from working properly, even though experts say that isn’t true.
“Given that the sanctions continue to work, given that they bring a legal and a practical mess to what is related to technical maintenance,” Peskov said.
German officials have rejected those explanations, saying they are merely a political power play. Germany’s Siemens Energy, which manufactured turbines the Nord Stream 1 pipeline uses, said turbine leaks can be fixed while gas continues to flow through the pipeline.
Also in the energy sector, tension still gripped Europe’s largest nuclear plant Monday, a day before U.N. inspectors were due to report on their efforts to avert a potential disaster at the Ukrainian site that has been engulfed by Russia’s war on its neighbor.
The Russian military accused Ukrainian forces of staging “provocations” at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which lies within a Russian-installed administrative area.
Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that Kyiv’s forces on Sunday targeted the territory of the plant with a drone, which it said Russian troops were able to shoot down.
The ministry said Ukrainian troops also shelled the adjacent city of Enerhodar twice overnight.
The two sides have traded accusations about endangering the plant, which the Kremlin’s forces have held since early March. The plant’s Ukrainian staff continue to operate it.
In a perilous mission, experts with the International Atomic Energy Agency traveled through the war zone to reach the plant last week.
Four of six U.N. nuclear agency inspectors have completed their work and left the site, Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear power plant operator, said Monday. Two of the experts are expected to stay at the plant on a permanent basis, Energoatom said.
The U.N. inspectors are scheduled to brief the Security Council on Tuesday about what they found out on their visit. The plant is largely crippled, amid a grinding war that has clobbered energy markets.
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