By Shivani Singh, Vladimir Soldatkin and Kate Abnett
MOSCOW / BEIJING / LONDON, Oct 13 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia is not using gas as a weapon and stands ready to help Europe with its energy crisis, after the region called on an emergency meeting to discuss the exorbitant prices.
Energy demand has skyrocketed as economies leave the pandemic behind, driving up oil, gas and coal prices, leading to inflationary pressures and undermining efforts to reduce the use of polluting energy sources in the fight against climate change.
China, the world’s second largest economy and the main emitter of greenhouse gases, has increased coal production and imports, as domestic prices hit historic levels and power plants have had serious difficulties to continue operating, leaving homes and factories without supplies.
The energy crisis has amplified Wednesday’s call from the International Energy Agency (IEA) to triple investment in renewable energy in order to stabilize markets and combat climate change.
The gas restriction in Europe has put the spotlight on Russia, which accounts for a third of the region’s supplies, prompting European politicians to blame Moscow for not pumping enough.
Putin claimed at a conference in Moscow that the gas market was not balanced or predictable, particularly in Europe, but said Russia was meeting its contractual obligations to supply customers and was willing to increase supplies if asked. .
The president dismissed any idea that Russia was using energy as a weapon: “This is just politically motivated talk, which has no foundation.”
Russia and Europe have been embroiled in a dispute over a new pipeline, Nord Stream 2, to supply Russian gas to Germany. The pipeline is built but awaits approval to begin pumping, amid opposition from the United States and some European nations who fear the project will make Europe even more dependent on Russia.
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