SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan (Reuters) -President Vladimir Putin on Friday denied Russia had anything to do with Europe’s energy crisis, saying that if the European Union wanted more gas it should lift sanctions preventing the opening of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Speaking to reporters after the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan, Putin blamed what he called “the green agenda” for the energy crisis, and insisted that Russia would fulfil its energy obligations.
“The bottom line is, if you have an urge, if it’s so hard for you, just lift the sanctions on Nord Stream 2, which is 55 billion cubic metres of gas per year, just push the button and everything will get going,” Putin said.
Nord Stream 2, which lays on the bed of the Baltic Sea almost in parallel to Nord Stream 1, was built a year ago, but Germany decided not to proceed with it just days before Russia sent its troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
European gas prices more than doubled from the start of the year amid a decline in Russian supplies.
This year’s price surge has squeezed struggling already consumers and forced some industries to halt production.
Europe has accused Russia of weaponising energy supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. Russia says the West has launched an economic war and sanctions have hampered Nord Stream 1 pipeline operations.
Russia has cut off gas supplies to several countries, including Bulgaria and Poland, because they refused to pay in roubles rather than the currency of the contract.
Russian gas giant Gazprom also said earlier this month the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, Europe’s major supply route, would remain shut as a turbine at a compressor station had an engine oil leak, sending wholesale gas prices soaring.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey/Guy Faulconbridge)