Russia has exonerated itself from the lingering shortage of gas flow to Europe, blaming it on what spokesman Dmitry Peskov described as “technological problems caused by the sanctions.”

Speaking yesterday, just as Gazprom is set to halt all flows of  via Nord Stream to Germany for three days, Pesov said Russia remains “a dependable supplier of gas,” to Europe and elsewhere.

Gazprom has said on August 19 that it would halt all deliveries via Nord Stream to Germany for three days between August 31 and September 2. This announcement raised renewed concerns in Europe that supply via the pipeline could be further cut or halted altogether after the three-day maintenance at the end of August.

While many EU nations accuse Russia of weaponizing gas supply, and looking to sink European economies in the winter. Russia is insisting that Western sanctions prevent it from obtaining gas turbines sent for repair to Western countries.

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Currently, Nord Stream is operating at just 20% of capacity. Speaking to reporters in Russia on yesterday, Kremlin spokesman, Peskov, said that “There are guarantees that nothing but technological problems caused by sanction is hindering the supplies,” in response to a question about whether there were guarantees that Russia would resume gas flows via the pipeline after the three-day maintenance period ends.

Russian news agency Interfax quoted Peskov as saying yesterday, “Russia has been and remains ready to honor all of its commitments,”

Also yesterday, however, French utility giant Engie said its gas supply from Gazprom would be reduced due to a dispute regarding its supply contract with the Russian firm.

“Engie had already secured the volumes necessary to meet its commitments towards its customers and its own requirements, and put in place several measures to significantly reduce any direct financial and physical impacts that could result from an interruption to gas supplies by Gazprom,” the French firm said in a statement carried by Reuters.

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France’s energy transition minister, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, accused Russia of weaponizing gas. “Very clearly Russia is using gas as a weapon of war and we must prepare for the worst case scenario of a complete interruption of supplies,” the minister was quoted as telling a local radio station.

Last Friday, Russia’s gas giant, Gazprom announced that gas flows to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline will be shut from today until September 2. They said the suspension would allow for maintenance work at the Trent 60 gas compressor station, which would be carried out with Siemens.

They insist that the maintenance was not planned, yet it appears to be escalating tensions between Russia and the EU, and squeeze Germany, already in the midst of an energy crisis, by restricting gas supplies even more.

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Reports say flows via Nord Stream have been reduced since mid-June after regularly scheduled maintenance continues to drag out over a gas turbine that was repaired by Siemens but never put back into operation.

On the other hand, Siemens claims that the work on the turbine has been complete for weeks, and that it has been waiting in Germany for Gazprom to supply the necessary customs documents for its return.
Gazprom, however, has stated that Siemens has not provided it with the necessary documents that would allow the turbine to be returned despite sanctions. The feud—which has now spilled over into Twitter with the two sides battling about the turbine by posting playlists for the lonely turbine—would be comical if it weren’t for the havoc the reduced gas shipments have had on Europe’s gas prices.

Germany had expressed the suspicion, shortly before the original turbine was sent off for repair, that Russia may not resume the flow via Nord Stream when the repair work was complete, as retaliation for the sanctions against Moscow.

“Based on the pattern we’ve seen, it would not be very surprising now if some small, technical detail is found and then they could say ‘now we can’t turn it on any more’,” Germany said at the time. As it turns out, that “small, technical detail” is the hiccup in the return of the turbine.

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