World Russia threatens gas supply in Europe's poorest state
Russia not withholding gas, says ambassador to UK
Russia is not slowing gas supplies for political reasons, Andrei Kelin says.Andrei Kelin said that commitments to increase supply would take time to take effect.
His country is immersed in a gas crisis. But Nicu Popescu is trying to remain positive.
"On Monday our country made history," Moldova's foreign minister tells me. "For the first time Moldova bought gas from a source that was not Russia's Gazprom."
The gas shipment from Poland's PGNiG was one million cubic metres.
Moldova will need much larger volumes if Gazprom does what it has threatened to do: turn off the gas taps.
Up till now 100% of Moldova's gas has come from Russia. But the contract to supply it expired at the end of September. Gazprom raised the price and Moldova balked at paying it. In the absence of a new deal, the Russian energy giant reduced supplies, prompting Moldova to declare a 30-day state of emergency. Gazprom accused Moldova of "provoking a crisis" and demanded repayment of a $709m (£514m) debt, which Moldova disputes.
Moldova declares state of emergency over gas crisis
Moldova to seek cheaper natural gas from Europe after traditional supplier Russia hiked prices.The eternal flame at a World War II monument in the capital Chisinau has been extinguished due to gas shortages, the defence ministry said on Friday.
Negotiations continue. Moldovan officials say they would like to sign a new contract with Gazprom, but only if the terms are favourable.
If there is no deal with Russia, could Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, buy enough gas elsewhere?
"It's the worst time to have a gas crisis at home," Mr Popescu admits. "The prices are higher than ever. We see this market crunch on a global scale. But we've had support. In recent years Romania built a new gas pipeline into Moldova which gives us a safety valve. We've also had some advice from the European Union on how to diversify a country's gas supply within a few days."
Like many enterprises in Moldova, the sugar factory in Drochia has been affected by the has shortage.
Microsoft says Russian group behind SolarWinds attack now targeting IT supply chain
Microsoft on Monday warned that the same Russian group behind the SolarWinds cyber attack in 2020 has been attempting to “replicate” that approach, now targeting organizations “integral” to the global IT supply chain—specifically, resellers and technology service providers. Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Customer Security & Trust Tom Burt shared the "latest activity" the company has observed from Russian nation-state actor Nobelium. Burt, in a blog post, said Nobelium was identified by the U.S. government and others as being part of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR.
"We're able to use just a quarter of the gas we need," manager Rostislav Magdei explains. "We're topping that up with alternative sources of energy. We hope our government will compensate any losses arising from the high price of fuel."
Once in Moscow's orbit, more recently Moldova has been tilting from Russia towards the West. The country's leadership is now pro-European and supports closer ties with the EU. Many here suspect that the gas crisis is the Kremlin's way of expressing its disapproval.
"This year we had parliamentary elections and the pro-Russia party lost," says Sergiu Tofilat, former energy advisor to the President of Moldova. "We have a pro-Western party in power here. So, Russia changed its approach on the gas supply. The Kremlin wants to punish the Moldovan people for voting against a pro-Russia party. It's pure politics."
"Vladimir Putin is trying to keep former Soviet countries within the area of influence of the Kremlin. We do not want to stay on our knees in front of Moscow. We must say no to Russian blackmail and we have the opportunity now to get rid of Russian influence in Moldova."
Democrats Might Give Up on a Methane Tax, and Maybe That’s Okay
Instead of mourning the loss, some climate experts are simply shrugging it off.Such a cut would cost the bill about 10 percent of its total emissions reductions, according to an analysis from researchers at Princeton. But at least so far, the reaction to its loss has not been as apocalyptic as what greeted the demise of the so-called Clean Electricity Program, one of the few parts of the bill that actually mandated carbon-pollution reductions.
The Kremlin denies using energy as a weapon. President Putin recently dismissed the suggestion as "utter nonsense, drivel and politically-motivated tittle-tattle."
For Moldova, though, reducing Russia's influence won't be easy. In energy terms, Moldova is closely tied to Moscow. Not only has the country been 100% dependant on Russian gas. But its own gas company, Moldovagaz, is majority-owned by Gazprom. And more than 80% of Moldova's electricity comes from a Russian-owned power plant in Trans-Dniester - a separatist region of Moldova, backed economically, politically and militarily by Moscow.
If you think of gas negotiations as a game of poker, then Russia has a very strong hand.
But Trans-Dniester could prove to be a weak point for Moscow.
"Gazprom needs a gas contract with Moldova so that it can supply the breakaway region, too, with gas," says Sergiu Tofilat. "Gazprom is a public company, with shares listed on the stock exchange. It cannot allow itself to sign a contract with the Trans-Dniester supplier that is not officially recognised."
In the town of Bălți Moldovan motorists are feeling the effects of less gas. I see long lines at the propane station. Queuing up here are dozens of cars and disgruntled drivers.
"We're in this situation, because we're looking towards Europe", a taxi driver called Valera tells me. "If we were with Russia everything would be different."
"The problem is," says another driver Yura, "that our leaders now want to be friends with Europe and America. For cheap gas they should go to Moscow, get an agreement. We need to bow down to Russia".
For a government that has set a pro-European course there is a danger: that a prolonged gas shortage and higher energy bills could make Moldovans question the direction in which their country is moving.
US to stop methane leaks from oil and gas wells .
The Biden administration plans to restore tough rules curbing one of the most potent greenhouse gases.President Joe Biden will announce that he is restoring and tightening rules scrapped by his predecessor, Donald Trump, administration officials say.