(This content was produced in Russia, where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.)
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin played down the impact of lost gas sales to Europe on Wednesday, saying there were other countries willing to buy Russian energy as Europe seeks to reduce its dependence on Moscow.
Responding to a question about whether a prolonged halt in gas exports to Europe would prove impossible in the long run, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a briefing that other buyers would be able to offset European demand.
"Europe is not the only consumer of natural gas and not the only continent that needs natural gas," Peskov said.
"There are regions developing at a much faster pace ... they can compensate for the (reduced) demand for (Russian) gas in Europe," he said.
Since the start of what Russia calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine, the European Union has pledged to reduce its reliance on Russian energy, introducing restrictions on Russian oil imports and proposing a price cap on Russian gas.
At the same time, Russia's state gas giant Gazprom has drastically reduced the volume of gas it supplies to Europe, citing customers' failure to pay in roubles, rather than the contracted dollars or euros, and technical failures, which it blames on Western sanctions.
Among countries benefiting from a drop in Russian exports to Europe is China, which is buying more, and cheaper, energy from Russia this year.
Moscow is also discussing a major new infrastructure project to pipe gas to China via Mongolia.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey)