While the threat of a total cut in Russian gas deliveries looms, European countries are not yet ready to last a whole winter without this supply. This is, in any case, what the International Energy Agency estimates, which invites the European Union to turn to other energies. For his part, the Russian president admitted that the sanctions adopted against Russia in terms of access to Western high technologies posed serious difficulties.
Six people were killed during a bombardment on Monday in Toretsk, in the Donetsk region, where Russia seems to be stepping up its operations. Shelling was also reported in Mykolaiv and the Odessa region in the south of the country, as well as in the city of Nikopol in the Dnipropetrovsk region in the center-east. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Monday that 250 “foreign mercenaries” had been killed in a Russian airstrike on the village of Konstantinovka in the Donetsk region.
This Saturday, Russia announced that it had ended the “operational pause” of its army, decreed eight days ago. The intensity of the bombardments observed over the past two days tends to illustrate the statements of Vladimir Putin, who, at the beginning of July, declared that his army had “not yet started serious things”.
The foreign ministers of the European Union met this Monday in Brussels, in order to increase the pressure on Moscow. New sanctions, such as an embargo on gold purchases from Russia were discussed. Contrary to the trend of the Twenty-Seven, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday that the European sanctions imposed on Russia were “a mistake” because they “asphyxiated” European economies. In this context, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, called on Europeans to “hold on”, in the face of soaring energy and food prices. “It’s a stress test for our societies,” he said. “I’m sure Putin is counting on the fatigue of democracies. I’m sure he believes that democracies are weak. European societies cannot afford to be fatigued,” he continued. EU leaders are concerned about growing public hostility towards Western sanctions against Russia.
That same day, Vladimir Putin also recognized the serious difficulties posed by “the almost total blockage” of Russia vis-à-vis Western high technologies. “We will intensively and intelligently search for new solutions,” he said.
The diversification of suppliers does not seem sufficient for the European Union to be able to do without Russian gas next winter. Worried for the coming months, the International Energy Agency warns that European countries must store an additional 12 billion cubic meters of gas within three months to fill stocks to 90%. It recommends the implementation of measures such as the introduction of auction systems for the sale of gas to industrialists, temporarily favoring other sources of electricity, including coal or oil, or even smoothing the peaks in gas and electricity consumption through increased European coordination.
These recommendations should be taken into account, even if offers from Norway and Azerbaijan are flowing in at maximum capacity, deliveries from North Africa are approaching their level of last year, and growth in liquefied natural gas flows maintained its first-half pace.
The Iranian, Russian and Turkish presidents are meeting in Tehran on Tuesday for discussions focused primarily on the conflict in Syria, but also, of course, on the war in Ukraine and its fallout on global economies. This is the first summit chaired by Ebrahim Raisi since he came to power in Iran a year ago, and Vladimir Putin’s second trip abroad since the launch of his offensive in Ukraine. The tripartite meeting comes days after US President Joe Biden’s tour of the Middle East, where he visited Israel and Saudi Arabia, two countries hostile to Iran.
The opposition television channel Dojd, which had suspended its activities after being blocked in Russia, resumed broadcasting from abroad on Monday. On its YouTube channel, the outlet aired a news program hosted by its editor-in-chief and star presenter, Tikhon Dziadko. On March 3, in the early days of the war, Dojd had chosen to suspend her work after being blocked by the Russian telecoms regulator, who criticized her for her critical coverage of the conflict. Russian authorities then passed legislation punishing up to 15 years in prison for spreading “false information” about the Russian military, prompting the channel’s journalists to flee the country.