Russia will not resume in full its gas supplies to Europe until the west lifts its sanctions against Moscow, the Kremlin said, as concerns over Russian gas supplies continued to drive up energy prices.
Speaking to journalists on Monday, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesperson, blamed sanctions “introduced against our country by western countries including Germany and the UK” for Russia’s failure to deliver gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
“Other reasons that would cause problems with the pumping don’t exist,” Peskov was cited by the Interfax news agency as saying.
Peskov added that Russia’s full resumption of gas supplies via Nord Stream 1 was “undoubtedly” dependent on whether the west would lift its sanctions on Moscow. “It is these sanctions imposed by the western states that have brought the situation to what we see now.”
Peskov’s statements on Monday are the clearest indication yet that Russia intends to force the EU to lift sanctions imposed against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine in exchange for Russia restarting its gas deliveries.
The leading Russian energy supplier Gazprom announced on Friday evening that a suspension of gas supplies heading westwards through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline would be extended indefinitely, citing “malfunctions” on a turbine along the pipeline.
Gazprom has similarly blamed western sanctions for disrupting gas deliveries, saying the manufacturer Siemens could not perform repairs on the turbines used in Nord Stream 1 because of sanctions against the Russian state energy company.
The EU has rejected Gazprom’s claims, accusing Putin of weaponising its gas exports.
Nord Stream 1 is the single biggest pipeline for gas from Russia to Europe and has the capacity to deliver 55bn cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year. Continued supplies through the pipeline are seen as crucial to prevent a deepening of the energy crisis.
The energy crisis in Europe, triggered by lower Russian gas flows, is seen as a major test of the block’s support for Ukraine.
After failing to achieve most of its military objectives in Ukraine, analysts believe the Kremlin is hoping record energy prices paired with possible food shortages this winter will push Europe to strong-arm Ukraine into a truce on Moscow’s terms.
Russian officials have been eager to point to growing anger in the EU over rising prices, with Peskov on Monday saying it was clear that life was getting “worse for people, businessmen, and companies in Europe”.
“Of course, ordinary people in these countries will have more and more questions for their leaders,” he said.