The flow of Russian gas in a key pipeline to Europe through Ukraine has been disrupted due to illegal siphoning by Russian occupying forces, according to Ukraine’s gas grid operator.

Gas flows were suspended from 7am on Wednesday at the Sokhranivka point, through which a third of Russian gas that transits Ukraine passes, Ukraine’s Gas Transmission System Operator (GTSOU) said. The reason was that it had lost control of equipment in occupied territory, the operator said.

Actions by occupying Russian troops including the unauthorized withdrawal of gas supplies “endangered the stability and safety of the entire Ukrainian gas transportation system”, it added.

Those actions constituted a “force majeure” under which the operator could no longer fulfil its contractual obligations, it said, adding that it had therefore asked its Russian supplier Gazprom to cease the flow of gas entirely via this pipeline.