Marko Bislimovski, head of the RKE energy regulator, warned that if Russia cuts off its gas supplies to Europe, Macedonia would have to switch to oil for the next heating season in Skopje. This was done for decades in the past, and caused extreme air pollution.

We are in a situation like we’ve never faced before. There were never so many drastic changes on the stock markets like there are now. If we are left without natural gas, it will be a serious problem for the next heating season. In that case, Skopje can only be heated with oil. That will mean enormous pollution levels in the city, Bislimovski said.

Macedonia buys all its natural gas from Russia. The capital Skopje is the only city where gas is used to heat the apartment buildings and some houses – through several plants that burn gas to warm water that circulates through a system of pipes.