Putin: Russia ‘ready to help’ ease Europe’s energy crunch

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Russia Europe)
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President Vladimir Putin said Russia was not using gas as a weapon and was ready to help ease Europe’s energy crunch as the EU called an emergency summit to tackle skyrocketing prices, Reuters reported.

Energy demand has surged as economies have rebounded from the pandemic, driving up prices of oil, gas and coal, stoking inflationary pressures and undermining efforts to cut the use of polluting fossil fuels in the fight against global warming.

The energy crunch has amplified a call by the International Energy Agency (IEA) for tripling investment in renewables to steady markets and fight climate change.

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“Europe’s gas squeeze has shone a spotlight on Russia, which accounts for a third of the region’s supplies, prompting European politicians to blame Moscow for not pumping enough,” the report stated.

Putin told an energy conference in Moscow that the gas market was not balanced or predictable, particularly in Europe, but said Russia was meeting its contractual obligations to supply clients and was ready to boost supplies if asked.

At the same time, he dismissed accusations that Russia was using energy as a weapon, saying, “This is just politically motivated chatter, which has no basis whatsoever.”

The European Union had not asked Russia to increase supplies of gas to the bloc, a European Commission official confirmed.

Russia and Europe have been embroiled in a dispute over a new pipeline, Nord Stream 2, to supply Russian gas to Germany. The pipeline is built but awaits approval to start pumping, amid opposition from the United States and some Europeans nations that fear it will make Europe even more reliant on Russia.

Some European politicians say Moscow is using the fuel crisis as leverage, a charge it has repeatedly denied.

The European Commission outlined measures on Wednesday that the 27-nation EU would take to combat the energy crisis, including exploring a voluntary option for countries to jointly buy gas.

Ministers from EU countries hold an extraordinary meeting on Oct. 26 to discuss the price spike.

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“The only way to fully decouple gas from electricity is no longer to use it to generate power,” EU energy policy chief Kadri Simson said.

“This is the EU’s long-term goal, to replace fossil fuels with renewables.”

The Paris-based IEA said the world had to invest $4 trillion by 2030 in clean energy and infrastructure—three times the current levels—to achieve net zero emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, the target of the 2015 Paris climate accord.