Ukraine: Cleverly says Putin wants to 'recreate the Russian Empire'
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Benchmark Dutch futures for gas soared as much as 41 percent right after Mr Putin declared a “special military operation”. The Russian President send a barrage of missiles into parts of Ukraine, prompting air raid sirens in the capital as citizens fled to shelter. After the shelling, reportedly been heard from five regions in the country, Ukraine said Mr Putin had launched a “full-scale war”.
Now, there are fears this has the potential to spark the biggest conflict since the Second World War.
But as Russia rains hell on its neighbour, there are fears it could spell disaster for the rest of the continent too, which relies on Russia to supply 40 percent of its gas.
The West has approved a series of harsh sanctions, targeting banks, politicians, oligarchs, the military and a gas pipeline (Nord Stream 2).
Analysts have warned that sanctions blocking Russia’s access to foreign currency could upend commodity markets, including oil and gas.
Hans van Cleef, a senior energy economist at ABN Amro Bank NV, told Bloomberg: “The bigger picture will strongly depend on how Europe and the US will respond.
“Will they imply sanctions against the oil and gas sector or not?”
If they do, Russia has warned that it will respond, a worry the bloc which receives huge volumes of gas coming through Russia’s vast network of pipelines.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has in fact warned that Moscow would re-route supplies to other markets if its energy companies get targeted by Western sanctions.
He told reporters: “Any export curbs would result in rising prices. And if such restrictions are to be applied then increases in prices should largely offset such curbs.”
And this could strike Europe at a particularly worrying time.
As of February 17, underground gas storage facilities (UGS) in Europe were 95.3 percent empty, according to Russia’s gas giant Gazprom.
Europe now has only 4.7 percent left of its gas reserves to survive on remainder of the winter.
The EU did claim this week that it had enough supplies to last several more weeks if Russia cuts the gas amid the Ukraine conflict.
But how long the conflict will persist is unknown.
And whit prices soaring, it could make for a catastrophic combination.
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Russia has already laid bare its tight grip on Europe’s energy market even before it sent Ukraine tensions soaring.
Since December, gas flowing through the Yamal-Europe has been diverted East, sending prices soaring to record highs.
But Gazprom has maintained that it has supplied Europe with gas in line with its long-term contracts.
European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Gazprom is consciously trying to store and deliver as little as possible while prices and demand are skyrocketing.”
Europe was also warned that prices were set to soar after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that he would not certify Nord Stream 2 (NS2), a move that sanctioned Russia over its aggression towards Ukraine.
NS2 would have sent Russian gas to Germany, bypassing Ukraine and Poland.
Danil Bochkov, an expert from the Russian Affairs Council, told Express.co.uk: “The impact will be substantial not only on Germany but on the whole EU since it could not diversify supplies that fast.”
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