Europe faces a ‘severe recession’ if Russia cuts off gas exports to the continent, a leading think tank has warned.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) said a deep recession would be a ‘near certainty’.
Russia’s state energy company Gazprom has already cut exports through the NordStream pipeline by around 60 per cent.
Planned maintenance this month is seen as an opportunity for Putin to shut it down.
CEBR forecasters said: ‘Putin seems intent on forcing the hand of European states, convinced that stopping gas exports will hurt Western countries more than it will cost Russia.’
This would lead governments to shut down industrial sites.
The CEBR estimates the risk of a recession in Europe this winter at 40 per cent.
The UK uses a smaller portion of its gas to power industry and would be insulated from the impact of a shortage.