Russia Restarts Gas Flow Through Key Pipeline to Germany

BERLIN – Russia resumed natural gas flows to Germany early on Thursday, easing fears in Europe that a key pipeline would become the latest target in an escalating confrontation between Moscow and Moscow. and the West as the war in Ukraine dragged on into its fifth month.

A steady stream of weapons from Western allies being used by Ukraine to increasingly wreak havoc on Russian forces has raised suspense around whether Moscow will resume gas supplies after 10 days. interruption for annual maintenance or not. The tensions are a stark reminder of how dangerously dependent Germany – Europe’s largest economy – and some of its neighbors are still dependent on energy from Russia.

The Ukrainian military said on Thursday that in the past 24 hours it had carried out 10 airstrikes across southern Ukraine using attack helicopters and fighter jets, targeting five Russian strongholds. They also targeted six Russian ammunition depots and several command posts with rocket and artillery strikes against more than 200 Russian targets.

The Pentagon said on Wednesday that it would send Ukraine four more advanced multi-role missile launchers, known as HIMARS, and a senior defense official acknowledged that it was considering sending Ukraine the weapons. New fighter aircraft.

General Charles Q. Brown Jr., chief of staff of the US Air Force, declined to speculate on what types of aircraft might be delivered, but he said discussions were ongoing about how to strengthen Ukraine’s fleet. .

“It’s going to be something non-Russian, I can tell you that,” General Brown said during an appearance at Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. “But I can’t tell you exactly what it will be like.”

At the same forum, William J. Burns, director of the CIA, said that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin had made a fundamental miscalculation.

“He asserted that Ukraine is not a real country, but real nations will resist,” Mr. Burns said.

However, he said the Russian leader believes the US has only a short attention span and that over time the West’s resolve will fade.

Despite Thursday’s resumption of gas flows, European Union leaders believe Putin will continue to exploit the bloc’s reliance on Russia’s fossil fuels as a way to undermine countries’ economies and break alliances.

“Russia is blackmailing us,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, as he introduced his plan to reduce gas consumption. “Russia is using energy as a weapon.”

The bloc is calling on member states to immediately cut natural gas use in preparation for uncertain and possibly unstable supply ahead of winter.

In Germany alone, half of all homes are heated by gas, and fuel is a key factor in keeping the country’s vital chemical, steel and automotive industries afloat. . Even before Nord Stream 1 shut down on July 11, the government in Berlin was declare a “gas crisis” and began enacting measures to reduce gas consumption, such as ordering the resumption of coal-fired power plants to replace gas-fired plants.

In the weeks leading up to the shutdown, Gazprom reduced pipeline traffic to 40% of capacity.

The head of Germany’s network regulator, Klaus Müller, said that flows had returned to that level early Thursday – exceeding the amount that Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy monopoly, told the operators to be delivered.

“Unfortunately, political uncertainty and the 60% cut from mid-June remain,” Mr. Müller said.

Patricia Cohen contribution report.

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