Russia may have opened the valves at its end but it will take at least 36 hours to see if gas supplies to customers have been fully restored.
Observers are awaiting confirmation at hundreds of pinch points for pressure readings that will confirm if everyone is getting their agreed share. Two weeks ago a contractural dispute between Russia and Ukraine over transit fees and prices cut flows to western Europe. At the press conference to announce a new 10-year deal between the pair Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also announced a Swiss-based middleman operation between Gazprom and two Ukrainian businessmen that handled the bilateral gas trade would be dissolved, simplifying relations. Russia’s gas reaches its customers through a spider’s web of pipelines, but rival are planned or underway, tapping into non-Russian resources, like Azerbaijan, to cut Europe’s reliance on Russian energy. However alternative sources are a long way down the pipeline for now, especially for some eastern EU member states.