The leadership of the state-controlled Russian energy company Gazprom is likely to feel relieved these days: the new EU sanctions for the atrocities against civilians in the Ukrainian Bucha include an import ban on Russian coal, but they do not affect Russian gas or oil.

Of the three energy sources, gas supplies are the most sensitive for both the EU and Russia.

While only about a fifth of Russian coal exports go to European countries, they are by far the most important export market for Gazprom;

Of the 203 billion cubic meters of pipeline gas exported in 2021, 185.1 billion were delivered to Europe including Turkey.

If this stays that way and the EU does not impose an embargo,

Catherine Wagner

Business correspondent for Russia and the CIS based in Moscow.

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But Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine has already done significant damage to Gazprom.

The prestige project Nord Stream 2, in which the group, according to experts, has invested significantly more than the officially known 5 billion dollars, will remain frozen indefinitely.

Western partners have left Russia, including Britain's Shell, with which Gazprom was linked in the important Sakhalin-2 oil and gas exploration project.

It is uncertain how long Gazprom will be able to continue operating the natural gas liquefaction plant on its own, or whether new partners will be found during this time.

Now the group has also lost control of its assets in Germany.

Last week, Gazprom tried to divest itself of its subsidiary Gazprom Germania in order to forestall access by German authorities.

Since such sales in Germany require approval, which Gazprom had not applied for, Economics and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) decided on Monday to temporarily appoint the Federal Network Agency as trustee for Gazprom Germania.

As a result, the Russian group dismissed its representatives in the management of the German subsidiary and announced that Gazprom Germania and its affiliated company Gazprom Marketing & Trading were no longer allowed to use the Gazprom brand.

Hopes are pinned on Beijing

Gazprom Germania operates Germany's largest natural gas storage facility through its Astora company in Lower Saxony;

overall, Astora accounts for around a fifth of all gas storage capacities in Germany.

In addition, Gazprom Germania is also active as a gas trader with the company Wingas.

It is still unclear to what extent the loss in Germany will affect Gazprom.

Analysts at Russian investment consultancy BCS Express wrote this week that the event seemed like a "rather small issue" compared to the other difficulties Gazprom is currently facing in Europe - meaning the threat of an embargo.

How important income from gas exports is to the Kremlin has recently been shown several times: the important pipeline system through Ukraine has so far been spared from Russian bombs, and the Kremlin has backed off its initially tough stance on future payments for gas deliveries in rubles .

In addition, the important decisions affecting the gas business were recently announced personally by President Vladimir Putin.

The heads of Gazprom and the also state-controlled oil company Rosneft, longtime Putin confidants Alexei Miller and Igor Sechin, who in any case only act on instructions from the Kremlin, have not made an appearance for a long time.