Russian energy giant Gazprom said on Wednesday that delivering a turbine needed to keep gas flowing to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was “impossible” because of sanctions imposed on Moscow.
“The sanctions regimes in Canada, the European Union and Great Britain, as well as the inconsistencies of the current situation regarding the contractual obligations of [turbine maker] Siemens makes delivery impossible,” Gazprom said in a statement.
The statement risks further heightening concern among European countries who suspect Moscow is looking for an excuse to delay the turbine’s return to Russia and further cut its gas supplies.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to ‘play games with us’ but said there was ‘no chance’ he could split the western alliance.
Earlier on Wednesday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz accused Russia of blocking delivery of the key turbine to strangle Europe’s gas supply, as he raised the possibility of keeping nuclear power plants running.
The continent’s largest economy has been scrambling to find energy sources to fill the void left by a cut in Moscow’s gas supply.
Baerbock acknowledged that it had been “a mistake to be so dependent on cheap Russian gas”, prompting a radical shift in German energy policy to phase it out.
The delayed return of the turbine from Canada, where the unit was undergoing maintenance, was behind an initial reduction in gas deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in June, according to Gazprom.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly admitted on Wednesday that returning the turbine to Russia was “a difficult decision”, also condemning Putin’s attempt to “sow division”.
Supplies through the energy link were further reduced to around 20% of capacity at the end of July, after Gazprom interrupted operation of one of the last two turbines in operation due to “the technical condition of the engine”.