This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected Western accusations that Moscow is using its energy exports as a “weapon” while boasting that it can easily sell oil and gas around the world and blaming Europeans for current interruptions in gas supplies to the continent.
Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on September 7, Putin said the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany is “practically shut down” and will remain so because its last operational turbine is out of order.
He said Russia’s Gazprom will resume gas supplies through Nord Stream 1 if a turbine is supplied and that any turbine should be sent directly to Russia.
Putin also said Russia can launch the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline if necessary.
Gas stoppages from Russia have fueled fears that Moscow will keep the taps off for a longer period to put pressure on Western nations and break their unity in sanctioning Russia for its unprovoked war against Ukraine.
Gazprom suspended Nord Stream 1 deliveries on August 31 for what it said would be three days of routine maintenance but failed to restart the flow, citing a purported leak in a pump at a turbine.
Gazprom’s German partner Siemens Energy has disputed Moscow’s “repair” argument for the suspension of Nord Stream 1, which has historically carried about one-third of Russian gas supplies to Europe.
Gazprom this summer cited Western sanctions as preventing it from taking direct delivery of a new turbine from abroad.
Nord Stream 2 is a mostly completed $11 billion pipeline between Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea whose certification Berlin put on hold with tensions high ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Western leaders have repeatedly accused Moscow of “weaponizing” gas and other energy deliveries as it continues its full-scale war on Ukraine, which is also a major transit country for Russian gas.
In Vladivostok, Putin said sanctions had prompted the gas crisis and said Ukraine had shut down one of the routes on its territory for Russian gas on its own initiative.
He also said Poland had shut down the Yamal-Europe pipeline from Western Siberia through Belarus and Poland to Germany.
Flows through Yamal-Europe have been reversed to flow eastward between Poland and Germany since early this year, and Moscow has imposed sanctions on the owner of the pipeline’s Polish segment.
Putin said EU discussions of a possible price cap on Russian gas were “stupid.”