MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday it is the West’s own fault that the flow of Russian natural gas to European customers has dwindled and warned that it could continue ebbing.
Putin’s statement 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.
Speaking to Russian reporters in Tehran, where he attended the talks with the leaders of Iran and Turkey, Putin said the amount of gas pumped through the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany will fall further from 60 million to 30 million cubic meters a day, or about one fifth of its capacity, if a turbine isn’t quickly replaced.
He said that Russia could also launch Nord Stream 2, the pipeline which was completed recently, although he noted that only half its capacity would be available because it has been used domestically.
According to the Russian leader, the West should be aware that Russia’s plans to reduce the oil prices in order not only punish Ukraine but also destabilize the oil market. This will cause oil prices and other economic indicators worldwide to rise.
“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.”
After Russian troops entered Ukraine in February 2018, the EU approved bans for Russian coal and oil. These will take effect late this year. Natural gas, however, was excluded because 27 member nations depend on natural gas to heat their homes, power factories and generate electricity.
However, Russia’s Gazprom state-controlled natural gas giant reduced gas deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany by 60% last month, citing technical problems after a turbine that Siemens sent to Canada for overhaul couldn’t be returned because of sanctions. Canada and Germany made a deal to return the turbine, but Putin said Tuesday that Gazprom still hasn’t received the relevant documents.
The Russian leader said that Gazprom was to shut another turbine for repairs in late July, and if the one that was sent to Canada isn’t returned by that time the flow of gas will ebb even more.
Another reason behind the reduction in supply was that Ukraine shut down a section of its transit pipeline carrying Russian gaz to the West, which ran through territories controlled by Moscow-based separatists.
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