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Putin is pushing for gas supplies. And Europe is seriously concerned about a total shutdown

Written by Javed Iqbal

BRUSSELS – European leaders are becoming more and more concerned about the possibility of a complete shutdown of gas supplies from Russia, where Italy is asking for a new meeting to discuss the matter.

Gazprom, Russia’s state-subsidized energy supplier, has reduced its gas flows to Europe by around 60% over the past few weeks, prompting Germany, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands to state that they could return to coal once again.

It comes as Europe – as the recipient about 40% of its gas via Russian pipelines – rapidly trying to reduce its dependence on Russian hydrocarbons in response to the Kremlin’s almost four-month-long attack in Ukraine.

“Russia is gradually reducing the supply of gas to some countries [by] almost 100%; to others and cut 10, 15% down, “Josep Borrel, the EU’s top diplomat, told CNBC on Friday.

Employees pass under pipes leading to oil storage tanks at the central oil and gas treatment plant on the Salym Petroleum Development oil fields near the Bazhenov shale formation in Salym, Russia.

Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

“I do not think they are going to cut gas from one day to the next, especially as we go into summer and in summer gas is not a strategic weapon. But winter can be difficult and we must be prepared for Europe. “

When asked if he was worried that Russia could completely cut off gas supplies, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel told CNBC: “I’m fully aware that they can. They can. It’s their choice, natural choice. They can close or open. “

He stressed the importance of all 27 EU Member States agreeing on their approach to the issue. “In Moscow, one person can decide for himself to cut energy for Europe.”

Italy, meanwhile, has called for a meeting at EU level next month to discuss the energy and economic situations further, according to three EU officials, who did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the case.

This is a development story and will be updated soon.

CNBC’s Sam Meredith contributed to this report

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Javed Iqbal

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