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Kremlin says Russia is a reliable energy supplier for Europe

·2-min read
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov prepares for an interview in Vladivostok

By Dmitry Antonov and Katya Golubkova

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has been a reliable energy supplier to Europe even at difficult times in relations, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday, calling reports in British media that Moscow may cut supplies in case of sanctions "fake hysteria".

Russian energy supplies are in the spotlight as the United States and Europe both promised to impose new, much harsher sanctions on Moscow should it invade Ukraine.

Russia, which seized Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014, has massed troops on the frontier. It denies plans to invade but has said it could take unspecified military action unless demands are met including a promise from NATO never to admit Kyiv.

Europe relies on Russia for around 35% of its gas and is also a major consumer of Russian oil coming both via pipelines and sea ports. European gas prices rose by 14% on Monday as tensions rise over a possible Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The Russian rouble hit a 14-month low versus the dollar on Monday, with volatility recording its highest level since November 2020. Sales of Russia's oil and gas account for around 40% of the country's budget revenues.

"In the most uneasy times in our relations, Russia was a reliable guarantor of Europe's energy security, faultlessly fulfilling its contractual obligations," Peskov told a conference call on Monday.

Two major Russian gas routes to Europe - the Yamal pipeline via Poland to Germany and pipelines via Ukraine to as far as Austria - have been underutilized in the recent months.

Some European politicians have accused Russia's Gazprom of withholding supplies, contributing to skyrocketing spot prices. Moscow's top clients say long-term obligations are being met in full.

Austria, home to a major gas hub from where gas from Russia, Norway and other sources runs further to Europe, is 40% dependent on imports from Moscow - something it cannot change quickly, its foreign minister said.

(Reporting by Dmitry Antonov and Katya Golubkova; Additional reporting by Oksana Kobzeva in Moscow and Sabine Siebold in Brussels; Editing by Peter Graff)

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