Vladimir Putin has dismissed claims that Russia is weaponizing its supplies of natural gas to speed up Germany’s approval of the completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline and to destabilise European energy prices.
The Russian president has described the accusations as “politically motivated blather with nothing to support it”.
He believed that European governments are looking to blame Russia for the poor energy planning and worldwide shortfalls in supply, which he considers the primary factors in the “hysteria” engulfing European energy markets.
He also defined the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which extends from Germany to the Baltic sea and is pending Germany’s ceritification, as a ‘purely commercial project’.
Speaking to CNBC International at a moderated panel for Russian Energy Week in Moscow, he said: “Higher gas prices in Europe are a consequence of a deficit of energy and not vice versa and that’s why we should not deal in blame shifting, this is what our partners are trying to do.”
He additionally announced that Russia is ready to provide more gas to Europe if necessary, noting that Gazprom has increased its natural gas supplies to Europe over the first nine months of the year by 15 per cent.
He said: “We ensure guaranteed, uninterrupted gas deliveries to Europe. We have all the reasons to believe that by the end of this year we will reach record levels of gas deliveries to the global market.”
While gas supplies increased to near-record levels in the first seven months of the year, the volume of energy provided to external markets has since tumbled. The volume of gas provided last month was the lowest amount for September since 2016.
His comments follow the Kremlin’s defence of Russian energy giant Gazprom, which it believes is supplying natural gas to the continent at maximum levels under Gazprom’s existing contracts.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “Nothing can be delivered beyond the contracts. How? For free? It is a matter of negotiating with Gazprom.”
Russia is the third largest producer of fossil fuels globally and accounts for just over 40 per cent of the EU’s gas imports every year, according to Eurostat.