May 13, 2022
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Ukraine’s ultimatum to Europe: the EU must open its doors to us, or you will spend the winter without gas

Ukraine's ultimatum to Europe: the EU must open its doors to us, or you will spend the winter without gas

Photo: AP/TASS

Transit of Russian gas to Europe on May 12 decreased by about 30% to 53.2 million cubic meters. m. per day after Ukraine stopped receiving gas for transit through the GIS “Sokhranivka” a day earlier, citing the fact that it is under the control of Russian forces on the territory of the LPR. As a result, there was only one entrance left for pumping blue fuel to Europe – the Sudzha GIS. Gazprom said that it was technologically impossible to transfer all volumes to this entrance, and all transit services were fully paid for and specified in the transit agreement.

The Ukrainian authorities, preventing the transit of Russian gas, act in the interests of the United States and seek to arrange a gas blockade of European countries, said a State Duma deputy from the Crimean region Mikhail Sheremet.

“They are openly blackmailing Europeans. It becomes obvious to everyone that there are no more guarantees for the security of gas transit through Ukraine. There today, unpredictable inveterate Russophobes and rabid nationalists have settled in power. Therefore, we suggest that European countries stop counting on Ukrainian blackmailers and urgently consider an alternative option for gas supplies,” Sheremet said.

According to him, the only salvation for the EU countries experiencing a high gas shortage would be the immediate resuscitation of the Nord Stream 2 project, which was never put into operation, but none of the Europeans even mentions this yet.

Experts from the Norwegian analytical company Rystad Energy said that Ukraine’s decision to suspend the pumping of part of the Russian fuel has disrupted the transit of gas to Europe, which will complicate the plans of European countries to fill underground storage facilities. And if we take into account that they were already empty, and gas prices on the stock exchange remain high (this is more than 1,100 dollars per thousand cubic meters), the coming winter looks more and more threatening for Europeans.

President of the Foundation “Osnovanie”, energy expert Alexei Anpilogov believes that Kyiv began to jeopardize the transit of gas at the behest of Washington in order to finally break economic ties between Russia and the EU. In addition, as Sheremet said, we are already talking about outright blackmail, for example, in order to force the Europeans to further increase financial support and admit Ukraine to the European Union as quickly as possible, as Kyiv demands.

– All this is done in order to once again present Russia, the LPR and the DPR as incapable of negotiating. This is the main task of the Kyiv regime. It is clear that no one disabled or stopped this station. Oddly enough, all the personnel who are accountable to the Kyiv authorities remain there, although the station is located behind the front line. No one is asking them to leave the station, take Russian citizenship, or do anything else.

The suspension of transit is purely an initiative of Naftogaz, more precisely, a separate structure that is the operator of the GTS. Its representatives are now at the gas measuring station on the Ukrainian side and can safely continue their activities. By the way, the situation was the same at the Chernobyl plant, when Russian troops entered it, and now the situation is the same at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. Ukrainian personnel work everywhere, fulfilling their job descriptions, monitoring security and the commercial side of the issue.

At the Sokhranovka station, gas receipts are recorded, reconciliations are made, and acts are signed. It’s all weird, but it’s happening even now. In February, March, April, Gazprom, together with the operator of the Ukrainian GTS, signed acts for the transfer and acceptance of gas through the transit pipeline, despite the fact that a special military operation is underway. There are such restrictions on the use of military force.

About 25% of transit to Europe was pumped through this station. It is clear that neither Europe nor Russia is interested in its disruption. The interested parties are Kyiv and Washington, which understands perfectly well that in the situation with the European Union, “the worse, the better” for them now. They use Ukraine as an absolutely controllable element. The country is completely dependent, and they consider it as the executor of their will.

“SP”: – But why do you need to put pressure on the EU now, after all, is it already in line with the sanctions policy of the West? Or is it connected with the sixth package of sanctions and the embargo on Russian oil?

“Despite everything, the Europeans are trying to resist. Further sanctions are resisted by Germany, a number of other countries that are trying to defend their interests. But the United States is interested in absolutely all economic ties between the European Union and Russia being severed as quickly as possible. Even faster than they are rushing now. The Ukrainian gas demarche serves this purpose. And, in my opinion, this task is carried out quite successfully in such a simple way.

“SP”: – What will the reduction in transit lead to for Europe?

– The Europeans will have big problems with filling gas storages. They were already empty, and the Europeans wanted to take advantage of the spring fall in gas prices in order to more actively pump raw materials into the UGS. When gas jumped in price above $1,000 per thousand cubic meters, it seemed like a very high price. Now the “normal” cost of gas is $1,500, everyone is biting their elbows that they did not pump gas last season, in October-November.

Now the European injection plans will be thwarted. Perhaps the question of the temporary launch of Nord Stream 2 will even be raised. It is very interesting whether Russia will go along in such a clearly temporary solution or will insist that the gas pipeline be fully certified and recognized as a gas pipeline used to ensure Europe’s energy security. Gazprom has already stated that the onshore part will be used to supply Russian consumers with gas, but the issue with the offshore part is open. We don’t know if it will ever be used or if it will remain a dead weight at the bottom.

“SP”: – Can Ukraine further reduce transit?

We live in a very rapidly changing world. Even the Sudzha station, which today provides most of the pumping, is also located near the territory of the special operation. Kyiv can just as well declare it unsafe or inoperative. In addition, there are always objective risks in the course of the SVO, which are, in fact, force majeure.

“SP”: – What exactly do they want to achieve in Kyiv with these actions? Or is it just further discrediting of Russia?

– In fact, the Europeans in this situation did not have any levers of influence on Kyiv, which they have not yet used. Now the Ukrainian authorities Vladimir Zelensky I Dmitry Kuleba explicitly demand membership in the European Union. I’m not sure that it will be given to them so easily, but transit is a weighty argument. What else can Europe offer Ukraine now? Kyiv basically asks for money, preferences, but the amount of assistance is already the maximum. Therefore, if the Ukrainian authorities continue to pursue such a policy, it will most likely really be a policy of open blackmail. It seems to me that Europeans will perceive this with a lesser degree of enthusiasm.

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