Russia appeared to expand its retaliation against Western sanctions on Thursday by cutting in half its natural gas flows to European Union member state Slovakia. Prime Minister Robert Fico told a news conference in Bratislava his country had been caught up in a “political war where gas is being used as a weapon.”
After an emergency government session, Fico said the national gas company SSP had concluded a five year deal with Germany’s E.on to receive up to two million cubic meters of gas per day via Austria to compensate for the drop in Russian supplies.
Fico said SPP had recorded a more than 50 percent decline in flows for the second day in a row after smaller reductions throughout September.
A pipeline otherwise used to deliver Russian gas through Slovakia to the Czech Republic could be used to reverse flows.
Russia’s ITAR-TASS news agency got it the other way around, claiming it was the reverse pumping from the Czech Republic that caused the drop in Russian supplies.
However, Slovakia is not the first country formerly in Russia’s East Bloc to see a drop in gas supplies. Last month, Poland’s state energy group reported gas flows from Russia has fallen by almost a quarter after it had begun exporting gas to Ukraine to make up for shortfalls there. Ukraine subsequently accused Russia’s gas giant Gazprom of penalizing Poland.
Poland, the most powerful of former Soviet satellite states and an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin’s policy to subvert the pro-Western government in Kiev, has also been subjected to Russian agricultural bans. They came into effect after the European Union tightened its sanctions on Russia in July when a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine, apparently by pro-Russian militants fighting there in hopes of seceding from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation.
Full article: In Bid to Divide Europe, Russia Expands “Gas War” to Slovakia (Atlantic Sentinal)