Putin has lost his main leverage over the EU: Russian gas is no longer needed, it is replaced by the US and Norway
The European Union already filled its gas storage facilities by more than 90% in August, although the plan was to do so only in November. Russia has finally lost its influence on the gas market.
According to Politico, this makes the Kremlin struggle to plug the gaping hole in its finances created by its decision to cut off European customers after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.
"Today's confirmation that we have met our gas storage requirements ahead of schedule underlines that the EU is well prepared for winter and this will help to further stabilize markets in the coming months," the bloc's energy commissioner Kadri Simson said.
The news underscores the EU's success in giving up on Russian pipeline gas. Russian gas fell to 23.6 percent of EU imports in the first 32 weeks of 2022 and to 8.4 percent this year. That makes the EU's commitment to stop buying Russian gas by 2027 achievable.
"It's a success story," Bruegel Brussels-based think tank analyst Giovanni Sgaravatti said, "for the Commission, for the energy market, but even more so for the governments of the member states, who have responded to replacing 1 terawatt-hour of missing Russian gas within a year quite well."
Russian gas has been largely replaced by imports from the US, Norway, Azerbaijan and other countries, leading to a sharp drop in prices from the 2022 peak. The Dutch TTF gas price index reached 320 euros per megawatt-hour last August; This week it hovered around 38 euros.
However, the cost of gas is still higher than before the war, when it hovered around 20 euros per megawatt-hour, meaning higher bills for households and lower productivity for European industry.
As OBOZREVATEL previously reported, Ukraine itself will not negotiate with Russia to extend gas transit. According to the Minister of Energy, it will not be necessary.