Russia prepares for ‘energy attack’ on Europe, warns Zelenskyy as major gas pipeline remains closed

The Kremlin is preparing an “energy attack” on Europe, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday, a day after Russian energy giant Gazprom indefinitely suspended the supply of natural gas to Germany through the pipeline. NordStream 1.

“Where Russia cannot do it by force of conventional weapons, it does it by force of energy weapons,” Zelenskyy said in a video address. “Russia is preparing for a decisive energy attack against all Europeans,” he said.

His comments came after Gazprom, the state-controlled company that has a monopoly on Russian gas exports through the key pipeline, said on Friday it could no longer provide a time frame to restart deliveries through Nord Stream 1.

He said an oil leak meant a pipeline turbine could not operate safely and could not safely resume operations until all malfunctions were resolved.

Siemens, the German wind turbine manufacturer, however, said in a statement that such leaks “usually do not affect the operation of a wind turbine and can be patched on site”, adding that it had never suspended operations by the past. Despite the leak, there were additional turbines to run the pipeline, the statement said.

The pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea to Germany, has historically supplied around a third of the gas exported from Russia to Europe, but it was already operating at only 20% capacity before flows were interrupted last week for maintenance.

Falling gas flows have already driven European prices up nearly 400% in the past year, sending electricity costs skyrocketing and leading to accusations that Russia is weaponizing energy supplies. Moscow blames Western sanctions and technical problems for supply disruptions.

Zelenskyy said Russia was trying to attack with “poverty and political chaos where it cannot yet attack with missiles.”

The pipeline announcement came after finance ministers from the Group of Seven countries – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – agreed to impose a cap on the price of Russian oil, which they say would reduce the price of Moscow. “ability to finance its war.”

Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russian shelling hit the southern port city of Mykolaiv overnight, damaging a medical care center, the city’s mayor said in a statement on his Telegram channel.

Oleksandr Senkevych did not say if there were any injuries in the nighttime attack, which he said also damaged some residences.

Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at Zaphorizhzhia also continued to be caught in the crossfire on the front lines of the war, stoking fears of a nuclear disaster.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Saturday that the plant had lost external power. Ukrainian personnel operating the plant told IAEA inspectors that the fourth and final operational line was down. The other three were lost earlier in the war.

Only one out of six nuclear reactors on the site was in operation, the IAEA said in a statement on Saturday.

The single reactor produced electricity for cooling and household power, with a reserve line supplying power to the facility.

Russian forces captured the factory shortly after arriving in Ukraine, and the two sides traded accusations regarding the bombing of the factory.

Zelenskyy blamed Russian bombing for the August 25 shutdown that cut the Zaphorizhzhia plant from the national grid, narrowly averting a radiation leak and causing power outages across Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Ukrainian troops launched another attempt to seize the plant on Friday night, despite the IAEA tour.

NBC News was unable to verify claims from either side.

The IAEA, whose experts have been on duty at the plant since Thursday, said a “secure offsite power supply” as well as back-up systems were essential for nuclear safety, adding that their presence at the plant was “changing gives it”.

Grossi is due to brief the UN Security Council next week after the factory inspection.

Associated Press contributed.

Mary I. Bruner