Putin denied withholding gas supplies to drive a surge in prices ahead of winter
He believes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will help combat the energy crisis
But the controversial project has been criticised as a geopolitical weapon
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Vladimir Putin has accused European leaders of being 'out of their minds' as he denied withholding gas from the continent as a geopolitical 'weapon'.
The Russian president insisted his country has always kept the taps into Europe open, including during the Cold War, and dismissed any suggestion that he is throttling supplies as 'complete nonsense'.
He also dismissed suggestions he is exploiting the crisis to get the Nord Steam 2 pipeline approved as 'politically motivated blather' - though added that opening the pipe will 'significantly decrease' gas prices.
Putin then harangued European leaders over their failure to top up gas supplies during the summer, suggesting climate targets were to blame.
'Europe tells us: "We are cutting down… moving away from hydrocarbons",' he told an energy forum in Moscow.
'Yet you will have to keep pumping (gas) through Ukraine for who knows how long, for another 100 years… Are you out of your minds?'
Vladimir Putin has accused European leaders of being 'out of their minds' as he denied withholding gas supplies
Russia has linked easing Europe's gas crisis with approving the Nord Stream 2 pipeline (top), but experts say the Kremlin already has plenty of capacity to boost supplies without bringing the new route online (pictured)
Putin insisted that Russia has already exceeded the contracts it holds with Europe, and stands ready to go further still.
'We will increase by as much as our partners ask us. There is no refusal, none,' he said. 'We are not using any weapons.'
One of Russia's main routes for pumping gas into Europe currently runs through Ukraine, which makes about $1billion per year in fees for maintaining the line.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline would bypass that route by going direct to Germany, depriving Ukraine of the money.
The move would also hurt Poland, which sits along another major gas route - a move observers say would punish the two countries for allying closely with Europe.
In addition, it would make Europe more reliant on Russian gas - handing Putin power and leverage over the continent. The US has opposed the line for this reason.
Russia only completed construction on the line last month, after Joe Biden lifted key sanctions which had halted construction.
It now only needs the approval of European regulators to begin pumping gas.
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Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10088155/Are-minds-Putin-slams-Europe-gas-war-promises-meet-obligation.html1448