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Russia blames sanctions for gas pipeline shutdown






Russia has warned that it will not resume gas supplies along a key pipeline to Europe until sanctions are lifted.


Moscow has blamed Western countries for its decision not to reopen the Nord Stream 1 pipeline after it was shut for three days for maintenance.


When asked if supplies would resume pumping if sanctions were eased, a Kremlin spokesman said: "Definitely".


Gas prices soared on Monday due to mounting concerns over energy supplies.


The Dutch month-ahead wholesale gas price, a benchmark for Europe, was up as much as 30% in early trading on Monday. Prices in the UK rose as much as 35% before winding back to £4.50 per therm.


Wholesale prices have been very volatile in recent weeks. They fell sharply last week when Germany announced that its gas storage facilities were filling up faster than expected.


Europe has accused Russia of using gas supplies to blackmail European countries because of the Ukraine conflict.


Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday: "Pumping problems arose because of sanctions imposed against our country and against a number of companies by Western states, including Germany and the UK.


"There are no other reasons that would lead to problems with pumping."


Last week, state energy firm Gazprom said that an oil leak in a turbine on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was behind the closure.


But this has been disputed by the European Union and Siemens itself, the German firm which maintains the turbine.


"Such leaks do not normally affect the operation of a turbine and can be sealed on site. It is a routine procedure within the scope of maintenance work," Siemens said in a previous statement.


While the UK is not reliant on Nord Stream 1 for its gas, the Kremlin's decision to squeeze supplies to Europe has driven up the overall cost of wholesale gas.


The overall increase has been behind the spike in the energy bill price cap for consumers in England, Wales and Scotland.

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