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The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin has disclosed that Moscow is ready to resume gas supplies to the European Union through a link of the Germany-bound Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea, an offer which was immediately turned down by Berlin.
Putin who made this offer while speaking at a Moscow energy forum on Wednesday, asserted that one of the two links of the pipeline remained pressurised despite a series of ruptures last month which caused major leaks, sending gas spewing out off the coast of Denmark and Sweden.
Africa Daily News, New York reports that the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was also ruptured by powerful underwater explosions in September.
Western officials have linked the incidents to “sabotage” but have held back from attributing responsibility for the blasts while investigations by German, Danish and Swedish officials continue.
Putin pointed out that if checks prove the Nord Stream 2 link is safe to operate, Russia stands ready to use the pipeline to pump gas to Europe, adding its capacity stands at 27 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year.
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The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has never brought natural gas to Europe because Germany prevented the flows from ever starting just before Russia launched military action in Ukraine on February 24.
Putin also repeated an earlier accusation that the United States was likely behind the blasts on the Nord Stream pipelines, without providing any evidence to support his claim, and floated the idea of creating an alternative European gas hub via Turkey.
‘The act of sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 is an act of international terrorism aimed at undermining energy security of the entire continent by blocking supplies of cheap energy,’ Putin said, alleging that the US wants to force Europe to switch to importing more expensive liquefied natural gas.
‘Independently of the possible sabotage of the two pipelines, we have seen that Russia is no longer a reliable energy supplier, and that even before the damage to Nord Stream 1 there was no longer any gas flowing,” government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann told reporters in Berlin.
‘So for us, there is no reason to believe that that would change,” she said. Asked if she would rule out the use of Nord Stream 2, Hoffmann replied: ‘Yes.’
While Russia is still pumping gas to Europe via Ukraine, the explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines have exacerbated acute energy shortages faced by the EU’s 27 member states as winter on the continent looms.