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EU Raises Alarm Over Energy Crisis Escalation In Europe

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The European Commission has expressed its worry over imminent escalation in the energy crisis as the European Union (EU) continues its stand-off with Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia had recently suspended gas deliveries to several EU countries, including Poland, Bulgaria, and on Saturday, Latvia, for their refusal to pay for delivery in roubles.

The currency demands for gas payments are linked to Kremlin attempts to ease the impact of Western sanctions on Russia over attacking Ukraine.
Russia has also throttled deliveries to Germany, the economic powerhouse of the EU, over maintenance works that are viewed as retaliation for Western sanctions.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen disclosed this on Monday while speaking in the European Parliament building.

She said European countries not dependent on Russian gas need to show solidarity with those that are being forced into conservation efforts due to impending cut-offs of the fuel.

“Since Russia has already completely or partially cut off gas supplies to 12 member countries (of the EU), we must all prepare for the worst situation”, she told El Mundo, a Spanish newspaper.

Mounting energy concerns drove the bloc to agree an emergency winter gas plan last week. These measures are to “help to meet our winter supply needs”.

“In just one week, the EU has agreed to take a decisive and unprecedented step to counter Putin’s threat to cut off gas supplies completely”, she further stated, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Spain, like other EU countries, initially opposed the emergency plan, but approved it after securing concessions.

Von der Leyen, who spoke to El Mundo’s questions via email, welcomed the Spanish government’s decision, saying, “Once again, this is about European solidarity”.

In a related development, the German Finance Minister, Christian Lindner has called for a halt to electricity production using gas, amid fears that the country will run out, as Moscow reduces supplies.

“We have to work on avoiding an electricity crisis on top of the gas crisis. Gas should not be used for the production of electricity anymore, as is still the case”, Lindner said in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

He added that Economy Minister Robert Habeck has the legal powers to stop gas being used in electricity production, demanding Germany’s “safe and climate-friendly nuclear plants” continue until 2024 if need be.

However, a spokesperson for Habeck warned that “a complete ban on the use of gas in eletricity production would lead to an electricity crisis and to blackouts”.

He added that some electricity production plants required gas in order to function and were crucial in sustaining the German electrical grid, noting that all efforts are under way to replace the use of gas for electricity production wherever possible.

Germany depends heavily on gas from Moscow but Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom reduced deliveries through Nord Stream 1 to 20 percent of maximum capacity last week.

Berlin has accused Russia of using pretexts to reduce the gas flows in retaliation for sanctions imposed by Western governments for Moscow’s war on Ukraine, now in its sixth month.

The supply reduction is fueling fears that Germany will not have sufficient gas for the coming winter, with potentially disastrous effects for industry and the public.

While Berlin is trying to reduce its dependency on Moscow, lawmakers are divided as they seek alternative sources of power, as Germany also seeks to continue its transition to green energy.

Meanwhile, first changes have been made to enable coal-fired power stations to generate electricity again. As of October 1, some coal plants will be allowed to resume operations in order to guarantee the stability of the electricity supply

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