On Wednesday Russia raised the stakes in its standoff with Ukraine by cutting natural gas flows still further. Moscow maintains that Ukraine is diverting gas intended for other customers to its own use. Russia is now sending about 170 million cubic meters of gas to Europe through the Belarus and Ukrainian pipelines rather than the normal 420-450 million cubic meters each day.
The impact of the cutoff is varying by country. Some have stockpiled gas in anticipation of this shutoff, while others have cut back on industrial use and curtailed power generation. Europe is currently engulfed with unusually cold weather adding to the problems.
There are many cross currents in the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute which has been going on for the last 16 years. Those with knowledge of the problem say there is right and wrong on both sides. Talks are continuing so that a solution is likely before serious damage occurs. Moscow, however, is using the situation to gain approvals for new pipelines that would bypass Ukraine and Belarus.