Russia is to cut gas supplies to Europe once again in a blow to countries that have supported Ukraine, just as there was hope that economic pressures could ease this week with the resumption of Black Sea grain exports.
The first ships from Ukraine might set sail in days under a deal agreed on Friday, the UN said, despite a Russian airstrike over the weekend against the Ukrainian port of Odesa.
Soaring energy costs and the threat of hunger faced by millions in poorer nations show how the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II, now in its sixth month, is having an impact far from Ukraine.
The Ukrainian military yesterday reported Russian cruise missile strikes in the south and that Ukrainian forces had hit enemy targets.
The Russian Ministry of Defense did not immediately reply to an out-of-hours request for comment.
Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month warned the West that sanctions risked triggering huge global energy price rises.
Russian energy giant Gazprom, citing instructions from an industry watchdog, on Monday said gas flows to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline would fall to 33 million cubic meters per day from today.
That is half of the current flows, which are already only 40 percent of normal capacity. Prior to the war, Europe imported about 40 percent of its gas and 30 percent of its oil from Russia.
The Kremlin has said the gas disruption is the result of maintenance issues and Western sanctions, while the EU has accused Russia of energy blackmail.
Germany said it saw no technical reason for the latest reduction.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that the Kremlin was waging an “open gas war” against Europe.
Politicians in Europe have repeatedly said Russia could cut off gas this winter, a step that would thrust Germany into recession and hurt consumers already hit by soaring inflation.
Moscow has said that it is not interested in a complete stoppage of gas supplies to Europe.
Before the invasion and subsequent sanctions, Russia and Ukraine accounted for nearly one-third of global wheat exports.
Officials from Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the UN on Friday agreed that there would be no attacks on merchant ships moving through the Black Sea to Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait and on to markets.
Moscow brushed aside concerns the deal could be derailed by a Russian attack on Odesa on Saturday, saying it targeted only military infrastructure.
The White House said the strike cast doubt on Russia’s credibility and that it was watching closely to see if commitments would be fulfilled.
“We will also continue to actively explore other options with the international community to increase Ukraine exports through overland routes,” it said.
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