Putin said, ‘Russia is not using any weapons. “Even during the most difficult parts of the Cold War, Russia regularly fulfilled its contractual obligations and supplied gas to Europe,” he said.
Russia last interrupted gas exports to the European Union in January 2009 after failing to agree prices and pipeline transit tariffs with Ukraine. The gas flow into Ukraine also decreased in 2006 and 2008 as a result of pricing disputes.
Putin said on Wednesday, in a more amicable tone, that Russia was “ready to discuss any additional steps” with European governments to deal with the worsening energy crisis.
“Russia erroneously fulfills its contractual obligations to our partners, including our partners in Europe,” he said. “Plus, we always try to meet our partners halfway through.”
According to the European Commission, wholesale electricity prices in Europe have increased by 200% compared to the 2019 average. The increase is a result of rising natural gas prices, driven by higher demand in Asia and lower than expected deliveries from Russia.
According to Eurostat, most EU countries rely on gas-powered power stations to meet electricity demand, and about 40% of that gas comes from Russia.
Last month, the International Energy Agency called on Russia to supply more natural gas to Europe to help ease the crisis, saying Russia was meeting contractual obligations to European customers, exporting their below 2019 levels.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that Russia has increased gas supplies to Europe under existing contracts to the maximum possible level and cannot exceed those limits.
Russian officials have previously said that expediting approval for the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline connecting Russia with Germany could help bring down natural gas prices. The pipeline was completed last month despite years of opposition from countries including the United States, which warned it would boost Moscow’s influence in Europe.
The Biden administration announced in July that it had reached a deal with Berlin that would allow Ukraine to proceed with the pipeline in exchange for German aid. It is now awaiting approval from the German authorities.
The European Commission on Wednesday unveiled a slew of measures aimed at tackling the energy crisis, including accelerating the transition to renewable forms of energy.
EU member states have put in place a series of emergency measures to help consumers and businesses cope with the decade’s high electricity costs, including direct financial aid to households, state aid for companies and targeted tax cuts.
– Amy Cassidy, Chris Liakos, Vale Aziz and Katharina Krebs contributed reporting.