Russian gas supplies to Europe will not resume until sanctions against Moscow are lifted, the Kremlin has said.
The Kremlin said on Monday the Western sanctions were the sole reason behind Russia’s decision to shut the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Moscow initially said it was shutting the pipeline, which supplies gas to Europe, for maintenance.
“[Gas] pumping problems arose because of the sanctions imposed against our country and against a number of companies by Western states, including Germany and the UK,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. “There are no other reasons that could have caused this pumping problem,” he reportedly said.
“Sanctions that prevent the units from being serviced, that prevent them from being moved without appropriate legal guarantees … it is these sanctions imposed by Western states that have brought the situation to what we see now,” Peskov added.
Peskov’s comment came amid a deepening energy crisis across Europe further exacerbated after Gazprom, Russia’s state-run energy company, announced on Friday that a three-day maintenance work due to an oil leak in one of the pipeline’s turbines will extend indefinitely.
The Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which has been operational since 2011, is the single biggest gas pipeline carrying gas between Russian and Western Europe.
The European Union snapped back at Moscow’s move with the European Commission spokesman saying that the complete halt of gas flows was made under “fallacious pretences”. EU officials have repeatedly accused Moscow of intentionally stemming or reducing the flows in retaliation for Western sanctions and support of Ukraine.
The United States also accused Russia of using energy as a weapon, adding though that Europe will have enough gas to face the winter months.
“The US and Europe have been collaborating to ensure sufficient supplies are available. As a result of these efforts, European gas storage will be full by the critical winter heating season. We have more work to do,” a White House official told Reuters news agency.
Meanwhile, energy prices have hit new highs, reaching a 30 percent increase on Monday, forcing countries to accelerate their search for alternatives to Russian gas.