Russian President Vladimir Putin says Europe is to blame for its ongoing energy crisis, rejecting accusations that Moscow has been withholding gas supplies to pressure the West.
“They’ve made mistakes,” Putin said in a televised meeting with Russia’s energy officials on Wednesday.
“It turned out, and today this is absolutely obvious, that this policy is wrong.” The mistakes, the Russian president added, included the termination of “long-term contracts” in favor of the spot market.
Putin also cited Europe’s transition to green energy and low investment in the extraction industries.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Putin noted that Russia was boosting gas supplies to Europe and stood ready to stabilize the market.
Gas prices in Europe have surged by more than 25 percent amid growing demand before the winter. The jump in prices to record peaks on Wednesday fanned inflation concerns, sending equities sliding as investors worried higher prices could choke the global economic recovery.
Washington and several of its European allies accuse Moscow of intentionally limiting gas supplies to Europe in an effort to hasten the launch of Nord Stream 2, a pipeline connecting Russia with Germany.
Earlier on Wednesday, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the claim. “First and foremost – we don’t just think – we insist that Russia does not and cannot have any role in what is going on in the European gas market.”
“Russia has fulfilled, is fulfilling and will continue to responsibly fulfill all of its obligations under existing contracts.”
Last month, Russian energy giant Gazprom announced that the 10-billion-euro ($12 billion) pipeline had been completed. The Kremlin has said its launch will help combat the energy crisis in Europe.
Last week, Moscow reiterated that Gazprom, whose gas exports outside the former Soviet Union rose 15.3% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2021, was meeting all its contract obligations in full. “Gazprom is supplying gas in accordance with customers’ requests under contract obligations,” the company said on Friday.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia has time and again said in recent months that all future attempts by the West to undermine the Nord Stream 2 project are doomed to failure.