Vladimir Putin said gas could still be supplied via undamaged parts of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline but it was up to the European Union whether or not it wanted the gas. He said its capacity stands at 27 billion cubic meters a year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Moscow is ready to resume gas supplies via one link of Germany-bound Nord Stream 2 pipeline that remains operational. The offer was quickly rejected by Germany, news agency Associated Press reported.
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The Russian Nord Stream pipeline network was hit late September. The explosions had ripped through both links of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and one of the two links of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline running under the Baltic Sea. This caused a massive gas leak, taking them out of service.
Putin said gas could still be supplied via undamaged parts of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline but it was up to the European Union whether or not it wanted the gas. He said its capacity stands at 27 billion cubic meters a year.
"We won’t supply energy to the countries that would cap the prices," he said. "I would like to warn those, who instead of business partnership and market mechanisms try to use con tricks and blunt blackmail, that we won’t do anything to our own detriment," he added.
German officials alleged Russia halted supplies through the Nord Stream 1 as a political gambit and questioned why supplies through Nord Stream 2 would be any more reliable.
"Independently of the possible sabotage of the two pipelines, we have seen that Russia is no longer a reliable energy supplier, and that even before the damage to Nord Stream 1 there was no longer any gas flowing,” German government spokesperson Christiane Hoffmann was quoted as saying.
As for Putin’s comments, she said: "Nice try."
Germany had frozen the Nord Stream 2 project days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine and a German government spokesperson also ruled out taking gas via that route.
Earlier, Putin had also floated the idea of creating an alternative European gas hub via Turkey, news agency Reuters reported.
"We could move the lost volumes along the Nord Streams along the bottom of the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea region and thus make the main routes for the supply of our fuel, our natural gas to Europe through Turkey," Putin said while speaking at an energy forum in Russia.
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While Russia is still pumping gas to Europe via Ukraine, the explosions on the Baltic pipelines have exacerbated acute energy shortages faced by Europe before the winter season.
Plunging Russian gas supplies caused prices to soar, driving inflation and pressuring governments to help ease the pain of sky-high energy bills for households and businesses and raising fears of rationing and recession.
However, AP reported that Europe has been able to bring its gas storage to 90 percent full for winter by securing other supplies. Natural gas prices have fallen markedly from August peaks, but are still 80 percent higher than they were a year ago.
Nord Stream 2 pipeline
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has never brought natural gas to Europe because Germany prevented the flows from ever starting just before Russia launched military action in Ukraine on February 24.
Before the explosions, Russia had cut off the parallel Nord Stream 1 pipeline at the center of an energy standoff with Europe. Russia had blamed technical problems for the stoppage, but European leaders call it an attempt to divide them over their support for Ukraine.
(With inputs from AP, Reuters)
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