Russian President Vladimir Putin has brushed off allegations that Moscow is using energy as a “weapon,” saying Europe’s gas shortage is largely caused by “systematic flaws” in the continent’s energy market.
Speaking at a forum in the Russian capital, Moscow, the president blamed the “flaws” in the European energy market, and said “some try to pass their errors onto others.”
Europe is facing a gas crisis as prices have spiraled to multi-year highs in recent weeks. Some in the continent accuse Russia of deliberately restricting gas flows to Europe.
Putin, however, said on Wednesday that Russia was “ready” to increase gas exports, adding that supplies were going up by “as much as our partners are asking us.”
He said it was “very important” to “suggest a long-term mechanism to stabilize the energy market” in what he called a “difficult situation.”
Russia supplies more than a third of Europe’s gas.
‘Politically-motivated blather,’ Putin terms allegations
Later in the day, Putin told CNBC that accusations made against his country are “politically-motivated blather” and there was “nothing to support it that we use energy as a kind of weapon.”
“We are not using any weapons,” Putin said. “Even during the hardest parts of the Cold War Russia regularly has fulfilled its contractual obligations and supplies gas to Europe.”
Russia’s energy minister said earlier Wednesday that new contracts would be needed for increased deliveries to Europe. “If there are requests, that will only be via the establishment of new contractual obligations,” Nikolai Shulginov said.
Energy demand in Europe is rallying as economies ramp up after the end of pandemic lockdowns and there are dips in supplies from renewable resources such as wind.