Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today accused Russia of engaging in economic terrorism by trying to prevent European countries from stockpiling natural gas ahead of winter, when the impact of higher electricity bills will cause difficulties in heating households and businesses.
How Europe will respond to rising gas prices, made worse by supply cuts from Russia, is the main question on the political agenda across the continent as autumn approaches.
Zelenskiy spoke via video call at an energy conference being held in Norway. His remarks came as Russia’s Gazprom plans repairs this week that could disrupt flows through the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline that connects Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea.
The Ukrainian president also called for sanctions against Russia’s Rosatom group for its nuclear blackmail, “radiation blackmail” at Ukraine’s Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which is held by the Russian military. “It is not normal that there are still no sanctions against Rosatom for its radiation blackmail,” said Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking through an interpreter, without elaborating.
The outage has fueled fears that Russia is cutting supplies to pressure Western countries opposed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Germany’s benchmark electricity prices for 2023 topped 1,000 euros per megawatt hour for the first time today as supply concerns kept the prices of natural gas and related fuels such as electricity and coal high.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said there must be a coordinated response from the European Union, and called an emergency meeting of energy ministers.
“Ahead of the EU Energy Council, we want to find a way to help people and businesses that we can agree with other European leaders,” he added. The Czechs, who took over the European presidency this semester, announced that the meeting will take place on September 9. The Czech Republic announced last week that it is eyeing support for an EU-wide cap on energy prices, an initiative that outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has backed.