Putin outsmarted as new mega gas deal undermines attempt to choke EU energy supplies

Russian gas 'could' be used to 'derail European Unity' says expert

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On Monday, the European Commission signed a deal with Azerbaijan that would double imports of natural gas by 2027, as EU countries scramble to end their reliance on Russia. The bloc is heavily dependent on Russia, accounting for about 40 percent of its imports in 2021. Over the past year, Putin has been weaponising this control over Russian energy, as fears grow that Russia will soon cut Europe off its gas supply in retaliation to Western sanctions.

Through this new deal, Azerbaijan would boost gas supplies flowing through the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline from eight billion cubic meters to 12 bcm this year.

According to the deal, the EU will also receive at least 20 billion cubic metres a year by 2027, with Italy, Greece and Bulgaria set to benefit directly from the increased supply.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Today, with this new Memorandum of Understanding, we are opening a new chapter in our energy cooperation with Azerbaijan, a key partner in our efforts to move away from Russian fossil fuels.”.

She also tweeted: “The EU is turning to trustworthy energy suppliers. Azerbaijan is one of them.

“With today’s agreement, we commit to expanding the Southern Gas Corridor, to double gas supplies from Azerbaijan to the EU.

“This is good news for our supplies of gas this winter and beyond.”

Concerns over a complete shut-off of gas supplies come as the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which flows from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea, was brought out of action last Monday for routine maintenance.

While the pipeline is due to get back to operation on Thursday, Berlin is concerned that Moscow may not resume the flow of energy as scheduled.

Germany’s Vice-Chancellor and Economics Minister Robert Habeck said he fears Gazprom may say “some little technical detail” is the reason not to restart gas deliveries through the pipeline after the works are completed.

While Russian gas supplies have been declining via major routes for some months, including via Ukraine and Belarus, Berlin’s suspicions of Moscow’s intentions grew after Gazprom last month reduced the gas flow through Nord Stream 1 by 60 percent.

Ahead of the trip to Azerbaijan on Friday, the EU Commission said: “Amid Russia’s continued weaponisation of its energy supplies, diversification of our energy imports is a top priority for the EU.”

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According to a document seen by Reuters, the deal between Azerbaijan and the EU would boost gas flow into the bloc through the Southern Gas Corridor pipeline.

The document read: “The Sides aspire to support bilateral trade of natural gas, including through exports to the European Union, via the Southern Gas Corridor, of at least 20 billion cubic metres of gas annually by 2027, in accordance with commercial viability and market demand.”

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