VLADIVOSTOK: President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday threatened to cut off energy supplies if price caps are imposed on Russia’s oil and gas exports, warning the West it would be “frozen” like a wolf’s tail in a famous Russian fairy tale.
Cutting supplies from Russia, the world’s second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and the world’s top natural gas exporter, would roil global energy markets, leaving the world economy facing even higher energy prices.
Speaking at an economic forum in Russia’s Pacific city of Vladivostok, Putin said European calls for a price cap on Russian gas were “stupid”, and would lead to higher global prices and economic problems in Europe.
The Group of Seven (G7) wealthy democracies announced plans to impose a price cap on Russian oil exports last week in a move that could also restrict Russia’s ability to secure tankers and insurance from countries beyond the G7.
Russia would walk away from its supply contracts if the West went ahead with its plans, Putin said.
“Will there be any political decisions that contradict the contracts? Yes, we just won’t fulfil them. We will not supply anything at all if it contradicts our interests,” Putin said.
“We will not supply gas, oil, coal, heating oil - we will not supply anything,” Putin said.
Russia’s paramount leader added some defiant spice from the famous Russian fairly tale “The Sister-Fox and the Wolf”.
“We would only have one thing left to do: as in the famous Russian fairy tale, we would sentence the wolf’s tail to be frozen,” Putin said.
Europe usually imports about 40% of its gas and 30% of its oil from Russia.
Since he ordered the Feb. 24 military operation in Ukraine, Putin says the United States and its allies have embarked on economic war on Russia with the most severe sanctions in modern history, warning that they will face a energy crisis as a result.
Since the conflict began, European Union customers have pledged to reduce their reliance on Russian energy while Russia has cut or shut down supplies on three of its biggest westward gas pipelines while oil supplies have been redirected eastwards.
Russian gas giant Gazprom on Friday said the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, Europe’s major supply route, would remain shut as a turbine at a compressor station had an engine oil leak, sending wholesale gas prices soaring.
Putin said Germany and Western countries themselves were to blame for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline not being operational and that Ukraine and Poland decided on their own to switch off other gas routes into Europe.
“Nord Steam 1 is practically closed now,” Putin said as he called Germany to return a separate turbine for the pipeline’s Portovaya compressor station that would allow Russia to resume pumping gas.
“There is an oil leak there - it’s a possibly explosive situation, a fire hazard. The turbine cannot work. Give us a turbine and we will turn on Nord Stream 1 tomorrow. But they don’t give us anything,” he said.
Russia says it needs “proper” paperwork before it will accept delivery of the turbine following maintenance. Germany says the turbine is ready to be returned.