Ukraine has escalated its warnings to Europe and the US on a possible halt in Russian gas transit flows across the country once Russia starts sending gas across the Baltic Sea to Germany through the Nord Stream 2 subsea pipeline.

Reacting to the halting of Russian gas transit flows via Ukraine to Hungary on 1 October, Yuri Vitrenko, executive chairman of the country’s state run gas importer and distributor Naftohaz Ukrainy described the move as a demonstration of what will happen to remaining transit flows via Ukraine after the launch of Nord Stream 2.

Gas supplies as a "weapon"

“We have warned our partners in Germany and the US that this could happen, and that ending physical transit through Ukraine will create huge threats to Ukraine and Europe,” Vitrenko said.

He referred to earlier joint statements from Germany and the US warning that there would be an "appropriate reaction" were Russia to use gas supplies as an econimic weapon.

“The Kremlin does it deliberately. It is the obvious use of gas (supplies) as (an economic) weapon,” Vitrenko said.

He added: "We are now waiting for sanctions to be imposed on the Gazprom subsidiary Nord Stream 2."

However, Nord Stream 2 said on Monday afternoon that it started to fill one of the two subsea lines with gas "to build the required inventory and pressure as a prerequisite for later technical tests". It added that pre-commissioning steps for the second line are ongoing.

Ukraine brake

The head of Ukraine’s gas transmission authority Operator GTS Ukrainy, Sergey Makogon, said on Monday that Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has not sent any gas to Hungary via Ukraine since the early hours of 1 October.

Hungary's transmission operator did report some gas flowing across the border with Ukraine during the past weekend on its network transparency platform.

However, these volumes originated from vast underground storage facilities in the west of Ukraine where it was stored over the past year by private traders, according to Makogon.

Following the deregulation of its gas market, Ukraine has been offering domestic and international traders an opportunity to import gas from Europe and store it temporarily in the country without paying any customs duty.

Russian gas transit

Makogon said Russian gas flows to Slovakia and Poland have continued since 1 October, but at a lower rate than usual.

As a comparison, Gazprom sent 85.3 million cubic metres per day of gas to Europe between 1 and 3 October against an average throughput in September of almost 109 MMcmd.

German gas transmission operator Gascade disclosed that the country's gas imports from Russia via the Yamal Pipeline, running across Belarus and Poland, fell to a plateau of 12 MMcmd in the first three days of October, compared with a September average of 65.4 MMcmd.

The fall in Russian gas exports to Europe is happening as gas spot prices for continent are hitting a previously unseen record of $1200 per thousand cubic metres on expectations of gas shortage this coming winter.

Sciopero bianco

Gazprom has repeatedly brushed off allegations it is deliberately restricting gas flows to the European market ahead of a certification decision that would allow gas to enter the market via Nord Stream 2.

The compnay has repeatedly said it is fulfilling all contractual delivery obligations to its European customers, although additional shipments have been drastically curbed, despite the attraction of soaring spot prices.

In Moscow, there have been links of supposed strategy statements from within Gazprom, suggesting that the company has been restricting shipments to the legal minimum under existing contracts in response to what is seen as western hostility to the Nord Stream 2 project.

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