The months-long war in Ukraine has had repercussions far beyond the battlefield, as the wider European continent has had to deal with energy and economic shocks resulting from the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

This has forced neighboring countries to rethink their energy supply deals, with the European Union (EU) having relied on Russia for 40% of its natural gas, despite fears the setup carries risks.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted the West to adopt a series of sanctions that led to a pushback from Moscow, including requiring “hostile” countries to pay for their gas in rubles.

Russia has also reduced natural gas shipments to Europe, prompting those countries to follow a new course.

The major Nord Stream pipelines that carry natural gas across the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany were the subject of much debate and concern during the war in Ukraine.

First, the Nord Stream 1 suffered service disruptions and production cuts and was later shut down in August, with Russia citing technical issues as the reason for halting operations. German officials dismissed that explanation, saying it was likely done in retaliation for sanctions imposed after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Since then, Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, which is not yet operational, have been damaged by apparent sabotage, with seismologists saying explosions rocked the Baltic Sea before unusual leaks were discovered earlier in September on two pipelines from Russia to Germany.

Europe has accused Russia of militarizing energy supplies, although Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that his country is responsible for the continent’s energy crisis, instead blaming what he called the “green agenda” and suggesting that the lifting of sanctions would solve Europe’s energy problems.

“At the end of the day, if it’s so difficult for you, just lift the sanctions on Nord Stream 2,” Putin said in a speech to reporters after the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan at the mid-September. “Just press the button and everything will turn on.”

Due to this uncertainty, the price of natural gas has skyrocketed, now about three times what it was before Russia invaded Ukraine.

The European energy crisis prompted countries to start storing gas well before winter. In late September, the Associated Press reported that European countries had filled storage facilities to 87% capacity.

Despite preparedness efforts, concerns remain about the state of people, businesses and economies in the months ahead.

The EU has also drawn up plans to reduce gas consumption, as a buttress against supply cuts, with governments pledging to cut gas consumption by 15%. This means the Eiffel Tower will plunge into darkness more than an hour earlier than normal, while shops and buildings will turn off lights at night and lower thermostats.

Members are also turning to other suppliers such as Norway, with Germany now buying more natural gas from the Nordic country.

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