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Russia to redirect energy exports to East amid European threats

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the National Space Centre construction site in Moscow on February 27, 2022. (Photo via AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the country will need to create infrastructure to redirect its massive energy exports eastward amid rising threats by European countries that they will reduce or cut natural gas imports from Russia in the future.

Putin old a televised government meeting on Thursday that authorities should present a plan by June 1 including on “expanding transport infrastructure to countries of Africa, Latin America (and the) Asia Pacific.”

The Russian leader said, however, that European countries would not be able to cut their reliance on Russian gas in a near future, adding that talks in Europe about cutting off Russian supplies were only driving up prices and destabilizing the international energy market.

“There is no rational replacement (for Russian gas) in Europe now,” said Putin, adding, “The so-called partners from unfriendly countries concede themselves that they won't be able to make do without Russian energy resources, including without natural gas, for example.”

Europe relies on Russia for 40% of its natural gas demand. European governments have issued sanctions on Russia over an ongoing military conflict between the country and the neighboring Ukraine. That has forced Moscow to introduce a new payment settlement scheme in relation to its gas exports to Europe.

In his government meeting on Thursday, Putin asked Russian officials whether it would be possible for Russia to include two current eastward pipelines that transport Russian gas to China and elsewhere in Asia into a unified system of gas supplies in Russia.

If possible, the inclusion may allow Russia to switch gas flows between Europe and Asia if it decides to implement such a scenario in the future.   

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