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Russia is curbing gas flows as Europe rushes to stock up for the winter.

Germany’s largest natural gas storage chamber lies beneath a strip of farmland the size of nine football pitches in the west of the country. The bucolic area has become something of a battleground in Europe’s efforts to defend against an impending Russian-induced gas crisis.

Since last month, the German government has been pumping fuel rapidly into the vast Rehden underground site, hoping to fill it in time for winter, when demand for gas increases to heat homes and businesses.

The scene is repeating itself at storage facilities across the continent, in an energy joust between Europe and Russia that has intensified since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

In the latest sign that Moscow appears determined to punish Europe for its sanctions and military support for Ukraine, Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy giant, last week slashed the amount of of gas it delivers via Nord Stream 1, a critical pipeline serving Germany and other countries. It is unclear whether the strangulation is a precursor to a full cut.

The move added urgency to efforts in Germany, Italy and elsewhere to build gas stocks in a crucial effort to moderate stratospheric prices, reduce Moscow’s political clout and avert the possibility of shortages this winter. Gazprom’s actions have also forced many countries to ease restrictions on power plants burning coal, a major source of greenhouse gases.

nytimes Eur

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