Putin blames EU for gas price crisis but says Russia can boost supplies to Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed the EU for the gas price crisis – and the Kremlin has said it has the potential to increase gas supplies to Europe.

Rising gas prices have put pressure on consumers and suppliers in the UK.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the existing gas transit routes will allow supplies to be strengthened before the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is supposed to bring Russian gas to Germany, goes into operation.

“There is potential,” Peskov said during a conference call with reporters.

“It all depends on demand, contractual obligations and commercial agreements.”

Europe’s soaring gas prices fell today after Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that his country could sell more gas to spot European buyers through its domestic market alongside existing long-term contracts.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said Wednesday that the launch of Nord Stream 2 would quickly stabilize European energy markets, a statement seen by some in Europe as an attempt to get regulators to quickly certify the new pipeline.

When asked about Mr. Novak’s comment, Mr. Peskov replied that Russia could increase deliveries along existing routes.

During Wednesday’s government meeting on energy issues, Mr Putin said that rapidly growing demand amid the global economic recovery from the pandemic had driven soaring gas prices in Europe. A cold winter and less power generation from alternative sources are also factors, he said.

However, the Russian head of state said the European Union’s efforts to switch from long-term supply contracts to spot trading in gas played a key role.

“I would like to emphasize that the situation in the European energy markets is a shining example of the inadmissibility of hasty and politically motivated steps in every area, especially on energy issues which determine the stability of industry and the well-being and quality of life of millions of people,” said Mr Putin.

He firmly denied criticism from some European politicians who claimed that Russia’s failure to boost supplies had fueled price increases.

“Russia has always been a reliable gas supplier to consumers around the world, in Europe and in Asia, and has always fully met all of its commitments. I would like to emphasize that, ”said Putin.

He said Russian gas supplies to Europe increased 15% in the first nine months of the year compared to the same period in 2020 and could set a new record this year.

The Russian leader also denied Ukraine’s claims that Moscow was trying to cut shipments through Ukrainian territory pending the Nord Stream 2’s commissioning.

Russia has pumped 8% more gas through Ukraine than provided for in the existing transit agreement, Putin said.

Russia could sell more gas to European spot buyers via its country’s domestic exchange. Strong price fluctuations are also bad for Moscow.

But he added that Russia’s state-controlled gas giant Gazprom will also need to fill its own warehouses to meet domestic needs in anticipation of winter.

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