Zelensky accuses Russia of ‘gas blackmail’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Moscow’s reduction of natural gas output to Europe “gas blackmail” after Russian gas giant Gazprom said that it would be reducing daily flows to just half of what it is currently providing daily.

“Even despite the concession regarding the Nord Stream turbine, Russia is not going to resume gas supplies to European countries, as it is contractually obligated to do. All this is done by Russia deliberately to make it as difficult as possible for Europeans to prepare for winter,” Zelensky said in an address on Monday.

“And this is an overt gas war that Russia is waging against a united Europe – this is exactly how it should be perceived,” he continued. “And they don’t care what will happen to the people, how they will suffer – from hunger due to the blocking of ports or from winter cold and poverty… Or from occupation. These are just different forms of terror.”

Gazprom announced earlier that day that it would be decreasing natural gas output starting Wednesday morning to just 33 million cubic meters daily, which is just 20 percent of its capacity and just half of what it has been providing, Reuters noted.

Gazprom’s announcement could impact energy supplies ahead of the winter when there will be higher demand for natural gas.

Draft legislation that seeks to decrease natural gas consumption voluntarily between August and March by 15 percent was approved by the European Union members on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press

The European Union would be pressed to take immediate action, however, if the member governments fail to reduce their energy consumption as needed.

The development comes amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, which has raged on for months and prompted countries to sanction Russian commodities including oil.