Russia Has the Europeans by the Gas Pipe
June 17, 2022 (EIRNS)—After reducing gas supplies through Nord Stream 1 by 60%, Gazprom has announced today that it will deliver only 50% of gas supplies to Italy. France is also not receiving a minor amount of Russian gas, which normally flows through Nord Stream 1. Russia is thus hitting the “co-belligerent” Europeans with the deadly gas weapon. We are one step before a real emergency, with rationing and energy cuts especially in Germany and Italy, where gas constitutes a major component of the national energy mix.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Green) said that if it is not possible to fill up gas reserves, mandatory government rationing will be necessary. “We will be forced to adopt further saving measures, if needed, by law,” Habeck told ARD television. Gas reserves are only 56% full. The head of the Bundesnetzagentur regulator, or Federal Network Agency, which is under Habeck’s ministry, has proposed to reduce home heating to 18°C (64°F). Housing Minister Klara Geywitz, a Social Democrat, said instead that she “considers a government-mandated freezing as nonsense.”
In Italy, Green Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani said that if the gas cuts are confirmed, a state of emergency will be implemented, also with mandatory government-ordered cuts, rationing measures, such as turning off public lights and air conditioning, etc. The Russian gas embargo is driving gas prices, already high, even higher. Electricity and gas bills are already unpayable. According to the retail association Confcommercio, the electricity bill for households has doubled in one year, from a total of €32 billion in 2021 to €59 billion in 2022. For tertiary activities, it has increased by 140%.
There is not much that European governments can do to avoid a catastrophic disruption in energy supplies this summer, and a worse one next winter, unless they surrender in the war they have waged against Russia. Even Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has openly admitted that EU sanctions are backfiring. In a press conference after his visit to Kiev, Draghi said that although oil and gas sales from Russia to Europe have dropped, price has increased, so that Russia has not lost and Europe is in trouble. In this context, the proposal to put a cap on energy prices gains strength.
What is to be done? “We will talk about it at the next EU Council meeting,” Draghi said.