MOSCOW - Russian energy giant Gazprom has imposed a further cut on gas flows to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% of maximum capacity, German network operator Gascade said in a statement Wednesday.

The Russian state-owned energy company said on Monday that gas flows would be reduced as it shuts down a turbine for repairs. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck reacted strongly on Monday, saying that “there is no technical reason for a reduction in deliveries.”

Gas had been flowing at 40% capacity after Russia slashed exports in response to Western sanctions.

To avoid a gas shortage in winter, Germany is currently trying to fill its gas storage facilities as quickly as possible. The facilities are currently filled to about 66% capacity, according to the German gas and electricity regulator.

On Tuesday, EU energy ministers agreed to a voluntary target to reduce gas usage by 15% between August and March 2023 in order to prepare for the winter. Gas prices have spiked more than 20% since the start of the week.

Joint Coordination Center opens in Istanbul to oversee grain export agreement

The Joint Coordination Center, which will oversee the export of Ukrainian grain, has opened in Istanbul.

In an address at the National Defense University, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the center “has a special meaning for the whole world and will work for purely humanitarian purposes.”

The coordination center was one of the key creations of the grain deal agreed between Russia and Ukraine under the auspices of the UN and Turkey.

As part of the deal signed Friday, grain ships will navigate through safe corridors in the Black Sea and then pass through the Bosphorus strait — an important shipping corridor in northwest Turkey — in order to reach global markets.

According to Akar, the deal “signed by the parties will be valid for 120 days and will continue unless the parties request termination.”

He told journalists and officials that “the preparation and planning of the first grain-laden ships to leave the Ukrainian ports continues.”

“The duty of the center is to provide safe sea transportation of grain and similar food products to be exported from Ukraine from the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny,” the minister added during an opening ceremony at the university.

Russia, Ukraine, the UN and Turkey will each send five representatives, including a mixture of civilian and military representatives, according to Akar.

“We believe that the works to be carried out through the Joint Coordination Center will make significant contributions to overcoming the food crisis affecting the whole world, especially to lowering prices,” the minister continued.

Akar stressed that the officials working at the center “are aware that the eyes of the world are on them,” outlining Turkey’s hope that the center “will make maximum contributions to humanitarian needs and peace through collective and successful work.”

| German Economy Minister reacts strongly says that “there is no technical reason for a reduction in deliveries