BERLIN—Russia shut down its main artery for natural gas to Europe for maintenance on Wednesday, in what Western governments see as the latest salvo in the Kremlin’s economic war on the continent.
The halt comes as European nations race to fill gas storage facilities to prevent a shortage in the midst of winter. Shortages would trigger rationing, likely kneecapping industry and tipping the continent’s already struggling economy into a recession.
Moscow has already throttled back deliveries over the Nord Stream pipeline—which links Russia’s prolific Siberian gas fields with Germany under the Baltic Sea—to just 20% of its maximum capacity, citing technical issues with its turbines. European officials have dismissed these explanations and have called the gas cuts an economic attack in retaliation for supporting Ukraine in the war.
On Wednesday, the Kremlin-controlled gas giant Gazprom PJSC said that it had completely halted the Nord Stream pipeline as “scheduled preventive work begins at the gas compressor unit.” The pipeline is due to come back online early on Saturday.
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