Russia in FLAMES: Devastating explosion rips through key gas pipeline in crisis for Putin

Russia: UK Ministry of Defence stands with Ukraine

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The key gas pipeline caught fire on Friday in the Russian region of Chelyabinsk. Footage shared on Twitter showed the gas pipeline explosion. One user re-sharing the video said: “The gas pipeline Bukhara – Ural broke out in the Chelyabinsk region, Russia.

“According to Russian media, the incident occurred due to the depressurisation of the underground gas pipeline. At the same time, gas supplies are proceeding according to the plan.”

According to Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations, there was a report of depressurisation of underground high-pressure gas pipeline with a diameter of 1000 millimetres that lead to the subsequent flaring, with flames that reportedly reached 10 metres high.

The fire was extinguished and paused no threat to the local village.

The Russian ministry said gas supply to consumers would not be affected by the incident.

The explosion came just hours after Vladimir Putin warned Europeans “should relocate before winter” in a threat to cut off energy supplies to the continent.

Russian gas producer Gazprom said on Saturday it had stopped supplying neighbouring Latvia with gas, accusing it of violating conditions for gas withdrawal.

Russia has already cut off gas supplies to Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, Netherlands and Denmark, which refused to pay for gas in line with an order by President Vladimir Putin requiring rouble accounts to be set up in a Russian bank as part of new settlement scheme.

Russia has also halted gas sales to Shell Energy Europe in Germany.

In a statement on Saturday, Gazprom did not specify which gas withdrawal conditions Latvia had allegedly violated.

Gazprom’s move comes a day after Latvian energy firm Latvijas Gaze said it was buying gas from Russia and paying in euros rather than the roubles required when trading with Gazprom.

A spokesperson for Latvijas Gaze, however, said on Friday the gas the company was buying was not from Gazprom. Latvijas Gaze would not name its provider, citing business confidentiality.

Latvijas Gaze did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday following Gazprom’s announcement.

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In March, Putin said the world’s largest natural gas producer would require countries designated as “unfriendly” in their stance on the conflict in Ukraine to pay for piped gas in roubles.

The European Commission — which has warned that complying with Putin’s order could breach European Union sanctions against Moscow — has urged EU companies to continue paying in the currency agreed in their contracts with Gazprom, the vast majority of which are in euros or dollars.

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