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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of using energy as a weapon by keeping a critical pipeline to Germany shut down in recent days, exacerbating electricity and natural gas shortfalls ahead of the winter months.
“Russia wants to destroy the normal life of every European – in all countries of our continent,” Zlenskyy said in his nightly address on Saturday.
“Where Russia cannot do it by force of conventional weapons, it does so by force of energy weapons. It is trying to attack with poverty and political chaos where it cannot yet attack with missiles. This winter, Russia is preparing for a decisive energy attack on all Europeans.”
Russian energy company Gazprom has blamed technical problems for this week’s shutdown of Nord Stream 1, saying that oil leaks in turbines must be fixed before natural gas flows resume.
Germany’s Siemens Energy, which manufactures turbines that Nord Stream 1 uses, dismissed Gazprom’s explanation for the shutdown, saying that turbine leaks can be fixed while gas flows.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine for surging energy prices, but said Norway and the US are now supplying natural gas to energy-starved European countries.
“We see that the electricity market is no longer operating because it is being severely disrupted by Putin’s manipulation,” von der Leyen said Friday.
Parts of Ukraine have also been without electricity recently due to fighting around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which is the largest in Europe.
The plant was temporarily disconnected from its last main external power line on Saturday, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.
A 14-member delegation from the United Nations nuclear agency visited the besieged plant this week to assess damage.
Russian forces took the facility over in March, but the plant’s Ukrainian staff have continued operations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.