Moscow can quickly pump more gas to the EU once German regulators allow a new pipeline under the Baltic Sea to start operation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
Speaking on a wide range of international and domestic policy issues during a conference of foreign policy experts, Putin argued that Russia already has increased gas supplies to Europe this year and could send more once the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is functioning.
He said one of the two links of the new pipeline already has been filled with gas as part of preparations for its launch, adding that supplies could start “a day after” regulators give their approval.
Putin said the pipeline's second link will be filled with gas by the end of the year, to a total capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (bcm).
Earlier Thursday, European Union leaders met to discuss ways to ease the pain of soaring energy bills for consumers. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that with the 27-nation bloc importing 90% of its gas – much of it from strategic rival Russia – “that makes us vulnerable.”
Putin blamed soaring European gas prices on past decisions by EU officials who focused on the spot gas market and opposed long-term supply contracts preferred by Russia.