The Kremlin's daily cat and mouse game with European energy prices resumed today, when several weeks after saying essentially the same thing - with no tangible results - on Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin told Gazprom PJSC to turn to refilling its European gas storage facilities from Nov. 8, once the gas producer completes its domestic gas reinjection campaign.
“I would ask you, once you have finished your work to refill Russian underground storages on or by November 8, to start gradual and planned work to raise gas volumes in your inventories in Europe: in Austria and Germany,” Putin told Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller Wednesday.
The move “will allow you to meet your contract obligations stably and rhythmically, to supply your European partners with gas in the autumn-winter period and, among other things, create a more favorable situation in the European energy market,” Putin said at a meeting broadcast on state television.
While the news will certainly be welcome to Europe, where a historic energy crisis has sent electricity prices to record levels and fears that a cold winter will lead to even more pain, we would not hold our breath: after all, Putin promised to push out European deliveries several weeks ago only to see even lower nat gas transit via the Yamal pipeline.
To be sure, Putin has been very clear in laying out Russia's ask to save Europe: activate the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. As long as Europe's bureaucrats refuse to comply, any hope that electricity costs will slide in the coming weeks will be at best - pardon the pun - a pipe dream.