Russia is blocking the import of an important turbine for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline. The turbine is still in transit in Germany and is awaiting transport to Russia, the Reuters news agency quoted two insiders as saying. The turbine has now been in Germany for five days.

The transfer to Russia is still uncertain. It could last for days or even weeks, they say. Russia has not yet provided the required documents. For example, one does not know exactly where the turbine should be sent and which customs station should be used for it.

Moscow has recently repeatedly pointed out that the gas tap cannot be turned on fully again until this turbine comes back from maintenance in Canada. Sanctions against the war country had delayed the return of the turbine. Now she would be ready, but the Russians don’t move. Instead, they continue to deliver only 40 percent of the agreed gas (see message below).

Germany has repeatedly denied that the reduced gas supply has anything to do with the missing turbine. Instead, the government accuses President Putin of using the gas as a political weapon.

According to network data, gas has continued to flow continuously through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline since the maintenance work was completed 29.3 gigawatt hours delivered per hour. This corresponds to a delivery of around 700 gigawatt hours per day and around 40 percent of the theoretically possible utilization. The gas flow is thus still at the level before the start of the ten-day maintenance work on July 11th.

With the start of operations of the Baltic Sea pipeline on Thursday, fears that Moscow could leave the tap permanently turned off were initially unfounded. Nevertheless, the government, business and experts are preparing for a continuation or even a possible worsening of the gas crisis. Economics Minister Robert Habeck announced an energy security package on Thursday. It was often said that there was still no reason to give the all-clear.

The export of millions of tons of grain from the war-torn Ukraine is to be jointly monitored by the conflicting parties under UN leadership. An agreement to end Russia’s grain blockade in the Black Sea, due to be signed on Friday, calls for a joint control center in Istanbul to be run by the United Nations and staffed by representatives from Russia, Ukraine and Turkey. The German Press Agency learned this from diplomatic circles in New York. Details of the EU’s new sanctions against Russia have also been made public.

The envisaged agreement on the Ukrainian grain deliveries provides that the precise coordinates for the humanitarian corridor on the sea route between Ukraine and the Bosphorus will also be determined in the control center in Istanbul. According to dpa information, the parties also agreed that ships bound for Ukraine would first be searched in Istanbul to ensure that they were not carrying any weapons or anything similar.

There should be another check in Turkey if ships from Ukraine want to leave the Black Sea again. This is to ensure that only grain is on board. Ships in the humanitarian corridor and the ports involved should not be attacked. The agreement is said to be initially valid for four months.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was optimistic not only about the grain negotiations, but also about the military situation. At a meeting with the heads of reconnaissance, the military and the Interior Ministry, the situation at the front and the supply of their own troops with new weapons were discussed.

We “agreed that we have significant potential to advance our forces on the front line and inflict significant new casualties on the occupiers,” Zelenskyy said.

57 names and organizations appear in the EU’s new sanctions package, which was published in the EU Official Journal late Thursday evening – including the head of the Russian arms holding Rostech and the Russian Sberbank. Above all, however, the export of Russian gold was limited. The Russian Foreign Ministry described the new EU sanctions as pointless, illegal and dangerous for the entire global economy.

The import ban for gold and gold jewelery from Russia to the EU also applies if the goods were previously sold in a third country. According to the EU Commission, there are exceptions for personal gold jewelery on private trips. In addition, sanctions against the largest Russian bank have been expanded: Sberbank will in future be one of those financial institutions whose money and other resources can be frozen. In addition, no financial or other means may be made available to the bank. Again, there are only a few exceptions.

It is the seventh package agreed by the 27 EU countries in response to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. “This sends a strong signal to Moscow: We will keep up the pressure for as long as necessary,” said EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Twitter.

Meanwhile, according to the Russian account, the West’s efforts to cap Russia’s revenues in the oil sector have failed. The Kremlin reported a phone call between President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Both sides had spoken out in favor of continuing to coordinate within the framework of the OPEC Plus conglomerate in order to keep the oil price stable. US President Joe Biden had tried to persuade the Saudi leadership to increase oil production in order to lower the price of oil on which Russia’s war chest depends.

Meanwhile, Ukraine had to devalue its national currency by 25 percent on Thursday. The central bank justified the move with a view to the changed economic situation in times of war and the stronger US dollar. At the same time, it tightened capital controls. People from Ukrainian accounts can now only transfer the equivalent of almost 800 euros abroad per month. Previously, this amount had been three times as high.

The reason for the bad economic situation is also the lack of income from grain exports. Before the war, Ukraine was one of the world’s largest exporters in the field. Because of the almost five-month naval blockade by Russia, around 20 million tons of grain are still stuck in the country, which are urgently needed on the world market – especially in Asia and Africa. The United Nations recently warned of the worst famine in decades.

But there is hope – and very concrete. After a basic agreement between Moscow and Kyiv on lifting the blockade, mediated by Turkey and the United Nations, was signed last week, plans are now in place to sign a formal agreement. However, according to dpa information, the implementation of the agreement – and thus the export of food from Ukraine – could take weeks. Western diplomats noted that it was still possible that Moscow could use trumped-up grounds to fail to implement the agreements.

That will be important on Friday

The agreement in the dispute over grain exports from Ukraine is to be signed on Friday at 3:30 p.m. (CEST) in Istanbul by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, among others. It was initially unclear who was coming for the delegations from Russia and Ukraine. The agreement that has now apparently been reached could be the United Nations’ greatest mediation success since the beginning of the war – and at the same time the most important compromise so far between Moscow and Kyiv in the conflict.

The international community has been demanding that Russia allow the export of Ukrainian grain for weeks. Ukraine complains that its ports in the Black Sea are blocked by the Russian Navy. Russia denies preventing wheat exports. Day of Truth – Fears about gas supplies: what comes through the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea gas pipeline?

Also read: Ukraine update on July 21 – dead after attack on Kharkiv – hope for an agreement in the grain dispute

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) says she learned new diplomatic tricks in her first phone call with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

After uncertainties that Russia could turn off the gas tap again, the message came early in the morning today: The gas flow through Nord Stream 1 will continue. Nevertheless, the government, business and experts are preparing for an intensification of the crisis. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war here in the ticker.

Before Vladimir Putin went into politics and became Russian President, he worked for the KGB for many years. A German publicist and expert on the Russian secret service shows how this time shaped him.