Gazprom is cutting off Poland and Bulgaria from gas supplies, the state-controlled gas company said Wednesday. The move, a significant escalation in the geopolitical conflict underlying the humanitarian atrocities being committed by Russian troops in Ukraine, was immediately slammed as “blackmail” by the EU and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff. The threat of Russia cutting off gas flows to Europe has prevented the West from more forcefully responding to the country’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

So-called “natural gas” is mostly made up of methane, which traps 80 times more heat in the atmosphere over a 20 year timespan than CO2. Russia supplies more than 45% of Poland’s gas and more than 70% of Bulgaria’s. Russia said it is cutting off “natural” gas supplies because the “unfriendly countries” have refused to pay in rubles. Russia’s war on Ukraine is also reducing its ability to respond to wildfires raging so ferociously across Siberia their smoke is turning Western U.S. skies pink. (Blackmail: Washington Post $, AP, BBC, The Guardian, New York Times $, Bloomberg $, MarketWatch, Wall Street Journal $, Washington Examiner, Politico Pro $, Reuters, CNN; Siberian wildfires: Washington Post $; European gas prices: New York Times $)