Russia says it will not resume gas supplies to Europe unless sanctions are lifted

·2-min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin  (via REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (via REUTERS)

Russia has warned that it will not resume gas supplies to Europe until Western sanctions are lifted.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov blamed the “collective West” for its decision to shut down flows through the crucial Nord Stream pipeline.

He said: “The problems pumping gas came about because of the sanctions western countries introduced against our country and several companies.

“There are no other reasons that could have caused this pumping problem.”

Asked if Nord Stream will resume pumping if sanctions are eased, Mr Peskov said: "Definitely".

It marks Russia’s clearest admission to date that its cuts to energy supplies are a retaliation against western sanctions, rather than a result of technical faults, as it previously claimed.

Gazprom’s decision late on Friday not to turn the Nord Stream pipeline back on after three days of maintenance sparked a rise in gas prices and has left EU countries scrambling to roll out emergency measures.

The Kremlin also warned that Russia would retaliate over a G7 proposal to impose a price cap on Russian oil.

"There can only be retaliatory measures," Mr Peskov said.

Russia is the world’s second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia. Europe imports about 40 per cent of its gas and 30 per cent of its oil from Russia.

The Kremlin blamed Europe’s political elites for its consumers’ soaring energy bills.

"It is obvious that Europe is getting worse for people, entrepreneurs, companies, to live and work: less money is being earned, the standard of living is falling," Mr Peskov added.

"And of course, ordinary citizens will have more and more questions about the leadership of their countries."

While the UK is not reliant on Nord Stream 1 for its gas, the Kremlin’s decision to squeeze supplies to Europe has driven up the overall cost of wholesale gas.

Liz Truss, the UK’s new prime minister, has promised to announce a plan to deal with high energy bills soon after she enters office.

However, UK businesses are not protected by a price cap and, last week, the British Chambers of Commerce warned firms would “close their doors this winter” if they were not given support with soaring bills.