Gas supplies from Russia to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline will not fully resume until the “collective West” lifts sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin said, according to the Financial Times.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accused the EU, the UK and Canada that the sanctions were to blame for “Russia’s failure” to deliver natural gas through the main pipeline, which delivers gas to Germany from Saint Petersburg across the Baltic Sea.
“Problems with natural gas pumping arose because of sanctions imposed by Western countries against our country and many companies ,” Peskov said, according to the Interfax news agency.
“There are no other reasons that could have caused this pumping problem.”
Peskov’s comments were the Kremlin’s strictest demand that the EU lift its sanctions in exchange for Russia continuing gas deliveries to the continent.
Gazprom, Russia’s state gas monopoly, said on Friday it would cut off gas supplies through Nord Stream 1 due to a technical fault it blamed on difficulties repairing German-made turbines in Canada.
The EU has already lifted some sanctions against Russia specifically to allow the turbines to be repaired. European leaders have said there is nothing to stop Gazprom supplying the continent with natural gas and have accused Russia of “rigging” its energy exports.
Russia still supplies gas to Europe through Soviet-era pipelines through Ukraine that remained open despite the invasion, as well as the South Stream pipeline through Turkey.
But Peskov said Russia would not be able to fully resume supplies through Nord Stream 1 until the West lifts sanctions. He accused Western countries of causing a “turmoil” by denying Gazprom legal guarantees that turbines sent for repair would be returned.
But Russian officials have made little secret in recent weeks of their hope that Europe’s growing energy crisis will reduce the bloc’s support for Ukraine.
“Obviously life is getting worse for people, entrepreneurs and companies in Europe, ” Peskov said. “Of course, ordinary people in these countries will have more and more questions about their leaders.”
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was even clearer on Sunday after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a 65 billion euro aid package to cushion the blow of soaring energy bills.
Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s security council, said Germany was “acting as an enemy of Russia” by supporting sanctions against Moscow and supplying Ukraine with weapons. “They have declared a hybrid war against Russia,” Medvedev wrote on Telegram. “And this old man seems surprised that the Germans have some minor gas problems.”