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Putin warns EU gas supply could continue to dwindle

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MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the flow of Russian natural gas to European customers had declined due to the fault of the West and warned that it could continue to decline.

Putin’s statement has further increased pressure on the European Union, which fears Russia will cut off the gas to wreak economic and political havoc in Europe this winter.

Speaking to Russian journalists in Tehran, where he attended talks with Iranian and Turkish leaders, Putin said the amount of gas pumped through the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany would fall further from 60 million to 30 million meters cubes per day, or about a fifth of its capacity, if a turbine is not quickly replaced.

He added that Russia could launch the recently completed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline which never entered service, but noted that it would only have half of its designated capacity as the rest was used for national needs. .

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The Russian leader also warned the West that his plan to cap Russian oil prices as part of his sanctions against Ukraine would destabilize the global oil market and push prices up.

“We hear crazy ideas about restricting Russian oil volumes and capping the price of Russian oil,” he said. “The result will be the same: higher prices. Prices will skyrocket. »

Since Russian troops arrived in Ukraine in February, the EU has approved a ban on Russian coal and most oil to come into effect later this year, but has not included natural gas as the bloc of 27 countries depends on it to power factories, generate electricity and heat homes. .

However, Russian state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom cut 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 review could not be returned due to sanctions. Canada and Germany reached an agreement to return the turbine, but Putin said on Tuesday that Gazprom had still not received the relevant documents.

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The Russian leader said Gazprom is due to shut down another turbine for repairs at the end of July, and if the one sent to Canada is not returned by then, gas flow will decrease even further.

He also pointed to Ukraine’s closure of a branch of a transit pipeline carrying Russian gas to the West that passes through territory controlled by Moscow-backed separatists as another reason for the decrease in the flow of gas. Russian gas to Europe.

German and European leaders dismissed Russian arguments, saying gas supply cuts were political. The EU fears that Russia will cut off the gas in an attempt to wreak economic and political mayhem in Europe this winter.

Putin, in turn, insisted that “Gazprom has always fulfilled and will fulfill all its obligations”, accusing that “our partners are trying to lay the blame for their own mistakes on Gazprom without any basis”.

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