EU Okays Cut In Gas Use; Ukraine Says Russia Supply Cuts Are 'Price Terror'
European Union (EU) countries bracing for further cuts in Russian gas supply on Tuesday approved a weakened emergency plan to curb demand, after striking compromise deals to limit reductions for some countries, Kate Abnett reported for Reuters.
Photo Insert: German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the agreement would show Russian President Vladimir Putin that Europe remained united.
Europe faces a tighter gas squeeze from Wednesday, when Russia's Gazprom has said it would cut flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to a fifth of capacity.
With a dozen EU countries already facing lower Russian supplies, Brussels is urging member states to save gas and store it for winter, fearing Russia will completely cut off flows in retaliation for sanctions over the Ukraine war.
Energy ministers approved a proposal for all EU countries to voluntarily cut gas use by 15% in the August-March period from the average from 2017-2021. The cuts could be made binding in a supply emergency, provided a majority of EU countries agree. But members agreed to exempt numerous industries from the binding 15% cut.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the agreement would show Russian President Vladimir Putin that Europe remained united. "You will not split us," Habeck said. Hungary was the only country that opposed the deal, two EU officials said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia was cutting supplies to impose "price terror" against Europe.
"Using Gazprom, Moscow is doing all it can to make this coming winter as harsh as possible for the European countries. Terror must be answered - impose sanctions," he said in a video address on Tuesday. Gazprom has blamed its latest reduction on needing to halt operation of a turbine.
EU energy chief Kadri Simson dismissed that reason, calling the move "politically motivated."