According to Putin, Europe could then be linked to 17.5 billion cubic meters of gas. This represents a tenth of the total amount of gas Gazprom exported to Europe last year. This addition will help Europe get through the warm winter at a time of gas shortage.
Putin’s comments confirm European politicians’ suspicions that Russia is using the gas crisis to pressure Germany to open Nord Stream 2 faster. The pipeline is ready, but regulators in Berlin and Brussels have not yet determined whether the pipeline complies with European legislation. Regulators have all winter to judge that.
The statements also indicate that Russia has sufficient reserves to supply Western Europe with additional gas immediately. There were doubts about this, because Russia refuses to increase supply through existing pipelines through Ukraine and Poland.
Nord Stream 2 bypasses those countries and thus is seen in Eastern Europe and the United States as the Kremlin’s geopolitical project. Putin wants to start using the pipeline as soon as possible to end Western attempts to block the project.
According to the Russian president, the European Union bears the responsibility for the gas crisis. He believes that member states should have signed long-term contracts with Gazprom in recent years. He also says countries have had problems with “radical” sustainability policies, with the Netherlands reducing gas production and Germany halting nuclear power.
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