The Kremlin on Monday blamed the West for causing Europe’s worst gas supply crisis in history, and warned the Group of Seven advanced countries (G7) that Moscow would retaliate for its plan to impose a price cap on Russian oil .Since ordering the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States and its allies of having embarked on an economic war against Russia with the harshest sanctions in modern history, warning them that they will face a energy crisis.
Since the war began, European Union customers have pledged to reduce their reliance on Russian energy, at the same time that Moscow has cut off or shut down three of its largest gas pipelines to the west and redirected the flow of oil to the east.
Russian gas giant Gazprom (MCX: GAZP ) said on Friday that the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, Europe’s main supply route, would remain closed because a turbine at a compressor station had an engine oil leak, causing sent wholesale gas prices skyrocketing.
“The problems with the gas supply arose due to the sanctions imposed on our country by Western states, including Germany and Britain,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a conference call.
“We see incessant attempts to shift responsibility and blame onto us. We categorically reject them and insist that the West as a whole – in this case, the EU, Canada and the UK – is to blame that the situation has reached the point where you are now.”
The Kremlin claims the sanctions are disrupting the ability of Siemens Energy, which supplies and services the pipeline’s equipment, to help fix the leaking engine oil.
Asked if Nord Stream would resume pumping if sanctions were eased, Peskov said: “Definitely.”
EU countries have repeatedly rejected Moscow’s argument, accusing it of militarizing energy supplies. The German government spokesman said on Monday that the latest gas price hike was part of Putin’s strategy.
The Kremlin also warned that Russia would retaliate over the G7’s proposal to impose a price cap on Russian oil, a move that is unlikely to hurt Russia unless China and India do the same. “There can only be retaliatory measures,” Peskov said.
By using its vast Siberian oil and gas reserves to goad the West into supporting Ukraine, Russia has raised its stakes in the war by sparking a wave of inflation that could push Europe’s biggest economies into recession.
Russia is the world’s second largest exporter of oil, after Saudi Arabia, and the world’s largest exporter of natural gas and wheat . Europe imports about 40% of its gas and 30% of its oil from Russia.
The Kremlin blamed European political elites for the rising energy bills of its consumers.
“It is obvious that Europe is getting worse for people, for entrepreneurs, for businesses, for living and working: less money is being earned, living standards are falling,” Peskov said.
“And of course ordinary citizens will have more and more doubts about the leadership of their countries.”
An estimated 70,000 people protested in Prague on Saturday, calling on the Czech government to do more to control rising energy prices and expressing opposition to the European Union and NATO.
However, an energy war also has costs for an energy superpower.
Selling oil and gas to the west has been one of Russia’s most profitable businesses since the Soviet Union built pipelines to Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, often despite fierce opposition from the United States.
Diverting gas from the Urengoy field in northern Siberia to alternative clients, such as China, is not an easy task: the Chinese border is 3,000 kilometers away and the construction of a gas pipeline would take time and money.