Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Europe was to blame for the current energy crisis after soaring gas prices spurred accusations that Moscow is withholding supplies to pressure the West.
“They’ve made mistakes,” Putin said in a televised meeting with Russian energy officials.
He said that one of the factors influencing the prices was the termination of “long-term contracts” in favour of the spot market.
“It turned out, and today this is absolutely obvious, that this policy is wrong,” Putin said.
European and U.K. gas prices surged Wednesday by more than 25%, energized by soaring demand before the northern hemisphere winter.
Critics have accused Moscow of intentionally limiting gas supplies to Europe in an effort to hasten the launch of Nord Stream 2, a controversial pipeline connecting Russia with Germany.
Earlier on Wednesday, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied those claims.
“First and foremost — we don’t just think — we insist that Russia does not and cannot have any role in what is going on in the European gas market,” Peskov told reporters.
“Russia has fulfilled, is fulfilling and will continue to responsibly fulfil all of its obligations under existing contracts,” Peskov said.
Russian energy giant Gazprom announced last month that the 10-billion-euro ($12 billion) pipeline had been completed and the Kremlin has said its launch will help combat the energy crisis in Europe.
Chechnya’s Kadyrov Takes Umbrage at Biden’s LGBT Reference
The strongman took to social media after Biden said “we all must defend the rights of LGBTQI individuals … whether it’s Chechnya or Cameroon or anywhere” during his UN General Assembly address Tuesday.
The republic of Chechnya has a notorious track record of persecuting sexual minorities, including alleged abductions and extrajudicial “honor killings.”
“Biden made such an absurd statement in response to which I can only invite him to our republic so that he can see with his own eyes that there are no roosters in the Chechen republic,” Kadyrov said.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov took umbrage at U.S. President Joe Biden’s speech mentioning his Kremlin-loyal southern Russian region in his calls to protect LGBT rights.
The Russian word for rooster, petukh, is Russian prison slang for inmates who have been sexually abused in jail and can also refer to gay men.
Writing on the popular Telegram messaging app, Kadyrov ridiculed the U.S. president for leading “the world’s most problematic, aggressive country.”
“Biden, whose country is angry at all Muslim states, is plowing the Arab world with air bombs and has returned troops from Afghanistan in shame, suddenly began to mention the Chechen republic for no reason at all,” he said.
“We haven’t recovered from a number of his ridiculous statements and actions as president of the United States yet and he’s already delighting us with his new strange and absurd statements.”
Kadyrov has repeatedly claimed, most famously in an 2017 HBO Real Sports interview, that his conservative, Muslim-majority region doesn’t “have any gays.”
Russian LGBT rights groups, which have helped gay and lesbian Chechens flee the repressive region, have long accused Kadyrov of orchestrating a campaign against homosexuals that has at times extended beyond Chechnya’s borders.
Kadyrov has dismissed the accusations despite years of media investigations into the imprisonment and torture of LGBT people in secret prisons.
The Chechen strongman extended his 14-year rule with a 99.7% sweep in the nationwide elections this weekend that critics and Western governments dismissed as fraudulent.
Kadyrov and several of his associates are under U.S. sanctions for a range of human rights abuses.