West ‘keeps lying’ about gas crisis being Russia’s fault – Putin
President Vladimir Putin has rebuffed what he calls “lies” claiming that Moscow has contributed to the rapidly growing gas prices in Europe.
In fact, has insists the opposite is the case and his country has increased gas supplies to EU member states.
Putin was asked by Russia’s Channel One during his annual end-of-year press conference on Thursday whether there was any truth in allegations that state gas giant Gazprom may be responsible for the record-high gas prices on the continent. The president strongly denied that this was the case.
“Of course, it’s not [true]. They are lying all the time,” Putin stressed. “Gazprom is delivering the volume [of gas] requested by its partners in full, in accordance with existing contracts.”
He said the Saint Petersburg company had, in fact, increased the flow of gas to Europe. “We’re not the only suppliers to the European market. But we’re probably the only ones who are increasing deliveries.”
Putin specifically addressed claims that Moscow has been decreasing the flow of gas down the Yamal-Europe pipeline. “[Gazprom] didn’t reserve traffic, because its partners, mostly French and German companies that buy gas via this route, have not applied for purchases.”
The Russian leader said that many factors had contributed to the current gas price crisis, including a decision by US companies to divert some supplies from Europe to lucrative markets in South America and Asia. This prompted “the prices to climb,” Putin noted.
“There were adverse weather conditions last year. A long, cold spring. Not enough gas was pumped into storages. Wind turbines didn’t work. All this has created a deficit.”
In September, a number of members of the European Parliament wrote a letter to the European Commission, claiming that the gas price surge may be “a direct result of Gazprom’s deliberate market manipulation.”