The Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the flow of Russian natural gas to European customers has dwindled due to the West’s own fault and warned that it could continue ebbing.
Putin’s statement on Tuesday further cranked up pressure on the European Union, which fears Russia could cut off gas to wreak economic and political havoc in Europe in the winter. On Wednesday, the bloc will outline emergency plans to reduce gas demand within months, warning countries that without deep cuts now they could struggle for fuel during winter if Russia cuts off deliveries.
Putin added that Russia could launch the recently completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline that has never entered service, but noted that it would only have half of its designated capacity because the rest has been used for domestic needs.
The Russian leader also warned the West that its plan to cap the prices of Russian oil as part of its sanctions over Ukraine will destabilise the global oil market and make prices soar.
“We are hearing some crazy ideas about restricting the volumes of Russian oil and capping the Russian oil price,” he said. “The result will be the same — a rise in prices. Prices will skyrocket.”
Since Russian troops rolled into Ukraine in February, the EU has approved bans on Russian coal and most oil to take effect later this year but did not include natural gas because the 27-nation bloc depends on it to power factories, generate electricity and heat homes.
However, Gazprom, the state-controlled natural gas giant, reduced gas deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany by 60 percent last month, citing technical problems after a turbine that Siemens sent to Canada for overhaul could not be returned because of sanctions.
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