Russia’s Gazprom says it has stopped gas supplies to Latvia


Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom said on Saturday it had stopped supplying gas to Latvia, accusing the Baltic state of “violating the terms of gas withdrawal”, without giving further details.

The announcement is the latest escalation in the energy dispute between Russia and the European Union. Gazprom has already cut annual gas supplies to its customers in at least six European countries, namely Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, because it failed to make payments in rubles.

Moscow is demanding payments in rubles in retaliation for the sanctions imposed by Western countries on Moscow over its war on Ukraine.

The sanctions have frozen large parts of Russia’s foreign reserves and isolated its financial institutions from the international banking system. By insisting on ruble payments, Moscow is essentially forcing Europe to buy up its currency.

The announcement from Gazprom came just a day after Latvijas Gaze said it was buying gas from neighboring Russia, adding that it was not buying from Gazprom and that it was paying in euros.

Earlier this month, the Latvian parliament voted in favor of a motion to ban Russian gas supplies from January 2023.

Meanwhile, Gazprom dramatically reduced flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline earlier this month, blaming the West for withholding vital equipment due to sanctions. Europe said Russia’s actions were politically motivated.

The pipeline, which carried about 35% of Europe’s total imports of Russian gas last year, has been closed for 10 days for routine maintenance. When imports resumed last week, gas was flowing through Nord Stream 1 at 40% of its total capacity.

The move prompted Germany to declare a “gas crisis” and activate the second phase of its three-phase gas emergency program, bringing it closer to rationing supplies to industry.

The European Union, of which Latvia is a member, agreed last week to cut demand for natural gas by 15% this winter to provide gas “in order to prepare for a possible disruption to gas supplies from Russia”.

However, the bloc has tempered its ambitions by giving countries some significant leeway. The Council of the European Union said in its report: press release.

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