Gas crisis fury as Merkel accused of PROTECTING Putin on high prices

The German premier dismissed claims the Russian President is partly to blame for the record prices. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Ms Merkel said: “To my knowledge, there are no orders where Russia has said we won’t deliver it to you, especially not with regard to the pipeline in Ukraine.”

She went on to say: “Russia can only deliver gas on the basis of contractual obligations, and not just only like that.”

However, some analysts and European officials claim Russia is selling directly to spot markets, causing prices to shoot up at alarming current rates.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov echoed the rhetoric of the German Chancellor by agreeing that all contractual agreements are being met.

Various European Union Parliament members have called for an investigation in to the Russian energy giant Gazprom, alleging a spike in prices possibly come from market manipulation.

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In a letter to the EU’s executive Commission on September 16, around 40 of the Parliament’s 700 lawmakers said they suspected Russia’s Gazprom had acted to push up gas prices.

“We call on the European Commission to urgently open an investigation into possible deliberate market manipulation by Gazprom and potential violation of EU competition rules,” said the letter.

Russia and Germany have built the Gazprom owned Nord Stream II pipeline between Ust-Luga to Greifswald, under the Baltic Sea. It is of geo-political importance as it avoids a route through Ukraine.

Although complete, gas is yet to flow through the pipeline as official confirmation and permission for the project to start has yet to be received.

The United States and some European countries have warned against the pipeline being opened as it could lead to further dependence by Europe on Russian gas.

Some say that as prices have risen as Russia pressures a more rapid response over the opening of the line, which will see around 55 billion cubic meters of gas flow at peak annual capacity, adding to the already flowing Nord Stream I, which pumps the same amount.

Whereas some nations, including France and Spain, are reeling over the spike in energy prices, which at one point were 40 percent up, the German Chancellor delivered a more measured appraisal of the situation.

“I just want to remind you that we have become used to very low gas prices,” said Ms Merkel at a conference in Slovenia.

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She went on to say: “Some of the shale gas in the US could not be extracted anymore because the prices were so low that it wouldn’t have paid off. Now the demand is getting bigger again, and we will have to look very closely.”

Environmentalists claim that shale gas extraction is most damaging to the environment, and should be avoided.

With Ms Merkel about to step aside from the German leadership, some claim that this may explain her lax approach to the situation, and her soft and toned down rhetoric on Russia, and Gazprom.

There is also the suggestion that the Nordstream II pipeline would give Germany another geo-political advantage in Europe as the ‘gateway to the gas’.

With no more voters to upset, Ms Merkel can afford to let her opinions run more freely than before, much to the delight of the Kremlin it seems.

With the Russian President claiming the gas crisis in Europe is ‘panic’ only, he addressed an energy conference in Moscow on Wednesday claiming that Russia would open the taps further to supply more gas to Europe in its time of need.

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