Energy war as West caps Russian oil price, Moscow keeps gas line shut


  • Russia delays the reopening of the pipeline, a blow for Europe
  • G7 finance chiefs agree on Russian oil price cap
  • Ukraine and Russia blame nuclear power plant

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine, September 2 (Reuters) – Rich nations agreed on Friday to try to cap the global price of Russian oil, as Russia delayed reopening its main gas pipeline to Germany as both parties were raising the stakes of an energy market. war between Moscow and the West over Ukraine.

Russian energy giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) has blamed a technical failure of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline. ‘Ukraine.

The announcements came as Moscow and Kyiv traded blame for their actions on one of the war’s most dangerous frontlines – the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, where UN inspectors have arrived. a day early on a mission to help avert disaster.

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Gazprom said it could no longer provide a timetable for restarting deliveries through the pipeline, an announcement that will add to Europe’s struggles to secure fuel for the winter at a time when it faces an increase in the cost of living due to energy.

Nord Stream 1, which passes under the Baltic Sea to supply Germany and other countries, was due to resume operations after a three-day shutdown for maintenance at 01:00 GMT on Saturday.

Moscow has accused sanctions, imposed by the West after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, of hampering routine operations and maintenance of Nord Stream 1. Brussels and Washington accuse Russia of using the gas as economic weapon.

The United States said it was working with Europe to ensure sufficient supplies were available for the winter. Read more

Earlier on Friday, finance ministers from wealthy Group of Seven democracies – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – said a cap on the price of Russian oil was intended to “reduce. .. Russia’s ability to finance its war of aggression while limiting the impact of Russia’s war on soaring world energy prices.

The Kremlin – which calls the conflict a “special military operation” – has said it will stop selling oil to any country that enforces the cap.

NUCLEAR FEARS

The six-month-long conflict in Ukraine has claimed thousands of lives and reduced cities to rubble. In recent weeks, fears have grown over a potential disaster at Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

Inspectors from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency team, led by its chief Rafael Grossi, braved heavy shelling to reach the site on Thursday. Read more

Grossi, after returning to the territory under Ukrainian control, said that the physical integrity of the plant had been repeatedly violated. On Friday, he said he planned to produce a report early next week and that two IAEA experts would stay at the plant for the longer term.

The site is on the southern bank of a huge reservoir on the Dnipro River, 10 km (6 miles) across the water from the Ukrainian positions.

Both sides accused the other of bombing near the facility which is still operated by Ukrainian personnel and supplies more than a fifth of Ukraine’s peacetime electricity. Kyiv also accuses Russia of using it to protect its weapons, which Moscow denies. Russia has so far resisted international calls to withdraw troops from the plant and demilitarize the area.

Ukraine’s nuclear company said Russia barred the IAEA team from accessing the plant’s crisis center, where Kyiv says Russian troops are stationed, which would make an unbiased assessment difficult.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the IAEA team to go further, despite the difficulties encountered.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t heard the main thing from the IAEA, which is the call for Russia to demilitarize the station,” Zelenskiy said in a video posted on a forum in Italy.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Ukraine continued to use the weapons of its Western allies to bomb the plant, increasing the risk of a nuclear disaster. He dismissed claims from Kyiv and the West that Russia had deployed heavy weapons at the plant.

Several towns near the plant were shelled by Russia on Thursday, Zaporizhzhia regional council mayor Mykola Lukashuk said. Reuters was unable to independently confirm this.

A reactor at the site was reconnected to the Ukrainian grid on Friday, a day after it was shut down due to shelling near the site, Energoatom said. Read more

COUNTEROFFENSIVE

Ukraine launched an offensive this week to retake territory in southern Ukraine, mainly further up the Dnipro in neighboring Kherson province.

Both sides have claimed successes on the battlefield in the early days of what Ukrainians see as a potential turning point in the war, although details are scarce so far, with Ukrainian officials releasing little information.

Ukraine Southern Command spokeswoman Natalia Humeniuk said on Friday that Ukrainian troops destroyed ammunition depots and pontoon bridges to impede the movement of Russian reserves.

“Our successes are compelling and we will soon be able to release more information,” she said.

Moscow denied reports of Ukrainian progress and said its troops had routed Ukrainian forces.

Reuters could not independently verify these claims.

The Ukrainian General Staff said on Friday that Russian forces had shelled dozens of towns and villages, including Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second-largest city – in the north and the Donetsk region in the east.

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Reporting by Tom Balmforth in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, and Reuters offices; Written by Stephen Coates, Angus MacSwan and Andrew Heavens; Editing by Nick Macfie, Peter Graff and Lisa Shumaker

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