Russia‘s latest effort to put Ukraine into energy extremis with winter approaching has focused on those NATO countries that are providing a portion of their imported Russian gas for onward shipment to Ukraine. This gas supply arrangement involves re-exporting Russian gas by reversing the flow of gas from pipelines normally transiting Ukraine to Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.
Over the course of the last few days, Gazprom has cut gas supplies to Poland by an estimated 20% to 25%, roughly matching the amount that Warsaw was re-exporting to Ukraine. This is no coincidence. In the case of Slovakia, the cut was approximately 10%, which presumably is equivalent to the amount of gas that country was re-exporting to Ukraine. In both cases, Moscow was reportedly successful in bringing a halt to such ‘‘‘reverse flow‘ arrangements, which Gazprom views as illegal. It is reasonable to expect this brand of enforcement measure to continue in the months ahead to put maximum pressure on Ukraine to grant full autonomy to pro-Russian eastern and southern portions of the country. A second Russian objective is to compel the EU to grant an exemption from Europe‘s so-called ‘‘‘Third Energy Package‘ to permit Moscow‘s South Stream pipeline to proceed immediately.