(Reuters) – The head of Gazprom called on the gas giant’s 500,000 employees to rally around Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin to preserve Russia as a great power in the face of foreign attempts to break her, according to a letter published on Thursday.
After the West slapped sanctions on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine, Putin said that the United States had declared economic war and was plotting to rip apart Russia in an attempt to enforce its global hegemony.
Alexei Miller, the head of Gazprom, said there were many examples of failed attempts to break Russia so people should be alert to destructive attempts to sow discord that might split the Russian people.
“Today, like never before, it is important to remain committed to the common cause, to rally around our president,” said Miller, a close ally of Putin since they worked together in the early 1990s in the mayor’s office in St Petersburg.
Rallying around Putin, Miller said, would “preserve Russia as we know it and love it” and keep the motherland as a “great power.”
The letter, dated March 5 and confirmed as genuine by a company spokesman on Thursday, did not explicitly mention the war in Ukraine which the Kremlin casts as a “special military operation”.
Gazprom, the world’s largest natural gas company by production, wields considerable influence both in Russia and beyond as it supplies around 40% of Europe’s gas.
Miller moved to Moscow from St Petersburg, Russia’s second city, in 2000 when Putin was first elected Russian president. A year later, he was appointed chief executive of Gazprom.
(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)