Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday denied that Moscow was using its energy exports as a “weapon” after Russia cut off natural gas deliveries through a key pipeline to Europe.
The Nord Stream pipeline was closed for several days after Russia said it would be repaired for an indefinite period of time, reinforcing fears of an energy price crisis in Europe as winter approaches.
Europe, heavily dependent on Russian supplies, has accused Moscow of using energy as blackmail in response to sanctions on the Russian military campaign in Ukraine.
“They say Russia uses energy as a weapon. More nonsense! What weapon do we use? We supply what is required according to the importers’ requests, Putin told the Eastern Economic Forum in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok.
Russian gas giant Gazprom said on Friday that Nord Stream, which will reopen last weekend after three days of maintenance, will remain closed for repairs after a turbine detected oil leaks.
The Kremlin insists that the sanctions have prevented the proper maintenance of Russian gas infrastructure and, in particular, blocked the return of a Siemens turbine that had been under repair in Canada.
“Give us a turbine, we will activate Nord Stream tomorrow,” Putin told the Vladivostok forum.
“We are ready to do it tomorrow, just press a button. But we didn’t introduce sanctions, “Putin added.
– ‘Another stupidity’ –
Speaking of the possibility of a price cap for Russian natural gas, Putin said it was “another stupidity” and “another non-market solution with no prospects”.
Putin warned that Moscow will stop deliveries to countries that introduce price limits on Russian energy exports.
“We will not provide anything if it is against our interests, in this case economic (interests),” he said. “No gas, no oil, no coal, no fuel oil, nothing.”
EU head Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday proposed that member states agree on a ceiling that “would cut Russia’s revenues” used to finance military action in Ukraine.
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On Friday, the industrialized powers of the G7 promised to move urgently towards the implementation of a price ceiling on Russian oil imports, in an attempt to cut one of the main sources of funding for Moscow’s military action in Ukraine.
Putin said Russia will respect its contractual obligations and hopes other countries will do the same.
“Those who are trying to impose something on us today are not in a position to dictate their will,” Putin said.
“They should come to their senses.”
Pointing to the rise in energy prices in Europe before winter, Putin insisted that Russia would provide nothing outside of existing contracts, citing a Russian fairy tale: “Freeze, freeze, the wolf’s tail” .
Following the imposition of economic sanctions on the Kremlin offensive in Ukraine, Russia has reduced or cut off supplies to several European nations, causing energy prices to soar.
The EU sought to reduce its dependence on Russian energy resources and agreed on a plan to reduce natural gas consumption across the bloc.