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Gazprom stops Latvia’s gas in latest Russian cut to EU


(BBC)

Russian energy giant Gazprom says it has suspended gas supplies to Latvia – the latest EU country to experience such action amid tensions over Ukraine.

Gazprom accused Latvia of violating conditions of purchase, but gave no details of that alleged violation.

Latvia relies on neighbouring Russia for natural gas imports, but its government says it does not expect Gazprom’s move to have a major impact.

Meanwhile, Ukraine says it killed 170 Russian troops in the past 24 hours.

Ukraine’s military also said its forces had destroyed two Russian arms dumps in the Kherson area.

Ukraine has stepped up efforts to push the Russians out of Kherson, a major strategic city in the south. The BBC was unable to verify the latest Ukrainian claims.

The UK Ministry of Defence says Russian forces have probably established two pontoon bridges and a ferry system to enable them to resupply Kherson, after Ukrainian rockets damaged key bridges in recent days.

EU states accuse Russia of weaponising gas exports in retaliation for far-reaching Western sanctions imposed over its invasion of Ukraine.

In Latvia, gas forms only 27% of energy consumption. Edijs Saicans, a senior Latvian economics ministry official quoted by Reuters news agency, said Gazprom’s move on Saturday was not expected to have a major impact.

Read also: Ukraine condemns Russia’s ‘humiliating death’ tweet after prison attack

Nato has bolstered forces in Latvia and its Baltic neighbours Estonia and Lithuania, as the region has long been seen as a potential flashpoint with Russia.

Ethnic Russians form large minorities in the Baltic states. Those states – formerly part of the Soviet Union – plan to stop importing Russian gas next year.

Gazprom sharply cut gas deliveries to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline on Wednesday to about 20% of its capacity.

The EU rejects Russia’s demand that member states pay for Gazprom gas in roubles, not euros. The EU says there is no contractual condition for rouble payments.

On Thursday the Latvian gas utility Latvijas Gaze said it was buying Russian gas but paying in euros.

Since Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine and the tightening of Western sanctions, Gazprom has suspended gas deliveries to Bulgaria, Finland, Poland, Denmark and the Netherlands over non-payment in roubles. Russia has also halted gas sales to Shell Energy Europe in Germany.

The EU is now striving to boost gas imports from elsewhere, including liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Norway, Qatar and the US.

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