The "turbine" case: how Russia uses gas to influence financial and military aid to Ukraine

July 13, 2022

KYIV. July 13. UNN. The Russian criminal regime is unlikely to fully restore the supply of blue fuel to the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline even after the return of the required turbine. Such resource blackmail by the Kremlin is another element of the Russian Federation's full-scale war against Ukraine, Razumkov Centre expert, former PR director of Naftogaz of Ukraine Maksym Bielawski told UNN.


"In my opinion, Nord Stream 1, either with or without the turbine that will be returned, will not work. Just because of the political strategy of Putin's criminal regime, is waging a resource war against the European Union. Actually, this war is an element of the full-scale invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine. I will explain how. The goal of the resource war of the Russian Federation is to weaken the financial capabilities of Ukraine's international partners, reduce their financial flexibility and stability, and, accordingly, limit and block both financial and military-technical assistance. So, in my opinion, Russia has chosen the path of aggression, escalation of relations not only with Ukraine but with the entire civilised world," the expert said.


In Bielawski's opinion, all the events currently taking place around the gas pumping turbine for the Nord Stream 1 compressor station are another attempt by the Kremlin to "break the consistent position of democratic countries around the world with respect to sanctions." "However, I am more than sure that the next step will comprise non-resumption of natural gas deliveries through Nord Stream 1," he says. According to the expert, the probability of such a scenario is witnessed by the fact that on July 12, despite the fact that Nord Stream 1 was transferred to the maintenance mode for 10 days, the order for Russian gas transportation through the Ukrainian gas transportation system did not increase. On the contrary, it decreased. While before July 11 (the start of the maintenance works) approximately 41–42 million cubic meters were transported through the Ukrainian gas transportation system, later, the Russian Federation ordered transportation of gas for the EU market in the amount of 39 million cubic meters. Taking into account the practice of the previous years, Bielawski says, Nord Stream 1 is always closed for maintenance once a year. This happens in June, July, or August — in the summer season, when gas consumption and volumes are the lowest on the European market. The volumes of gas supplied by Nord Stream 1 before the maintenance works were offset by the increased orders for gas transportation through the Ukrainian gas transportation system, although not in full — by 30-50%, the expert notes. According to him, even this has not happened. "Moreover, the Russian Federation continues to insist that the Ukrainian gas transportation system receives Russian gas for European countries through a network of main gas pipelines and compressor stations that are connected to the Sokhranivka border gas measuring station, which is currently not controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and in fact, we cannot fully monitor the commercial metering indicators to verify the fact of natural gas supply by the Russian Federation," added the UNN interlocutor.


Earlier, the German authorities agreed with Canada that Ottawa would transfer to Berlin the turbine needed for the Nord Stream gas pipeline operation, that stayed in Montreal for repairs. Canada could not hand it over to Russia because it violated the sanctions imposed on the country. In order for Canada to be able to ship the turbine to Germany, a temporary exception was made to the sanctions. The German government noted that "if it makes it easier for the Canadians to take a decision in a legal sense," Berlin would support the transfer of the equipment to the German partners, not Moscow. The return of the turbine will deprive Russia of the reason to supply gas at a level that is much lower than the standard, Berlin suggested.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine said that the decision to "exclude from sanctions" would be interpreted in Moscow as a "manifestation of weakness." Since the middle of June, Russia has sharply reduced the volume of gas supplies via the Nord Stream — to 40% of the designed capacity, explaining this, in particular, by the lack of the turbine. At the time, Berlin noted that it considered political motives to be the main reason for the reduction of supplies. From July 11 to 21, both strings of the Nord Stream gas pipeline were temporarily shut down. The operating company, Nord Stream AG, explained this as "scheduled preventive maintenance". The head of the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) Klaus Müller warned that technical works on the Nord Stream might turn into "continuous maintenance" for political reasons. 55 BCM of gas pass through Nord Stream every year. In 2021, Germany consumed 100 BCM, Reuters reports.

Maksym Bielawski

Leading Expert, Energy Programmes

Born in 1986 in Zhytomyr oblast


Zhytomyr State Technological University (2008)

Ph.D in Technical Science (2010)

Ivano-Frankivsk National Technical University of Oil and Gas (2012)

Author of 17 patents and 100 scientific works

Work Experience:

2008 – 2011 — Operator of Gas Infrastructure Units, Controller of Gas Transmission System in Rivne Division of PJSC "Ukrtransgas"

2011 – 2017 — Leading Engineer, Deputy Head of Press-Service, Head of Public Relation Department of PJSC "Ukrtransgas"

2017 – 2018 — HR Director of PJSC "Maine Gas Pipelines of Ukraine", Advisor to the Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine

2021 — Director of Integrated Communications of NJSC "Naftogaz of Ukraine"