Putin threatens sanction-hungry Europe with alternate energy supply route

September 1st, 2008 - 1:54 pm ICT by ANI  

Gordon Brown

London, Sep.1 (ANI): Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has warned Europe that his countrys energy reserves will flow to the Far East if European leaders seek to punish Moscow for invading Georgia.
Putin, who was speaking from Siberia, where he is inspecting work on a new pipeline that aims to speed up oil supply to Asia, said that Moscow would not succumb to threats from Europe.
His announcement on the eve of an emergency European Union summit in Brussels on Russia’’s occupation of Georgia put EU states on notice that Moscow is developing an alternative client base in the Far East.
Defending the country’’s incursion into Georgia, The Telegraph quoted Putin as telling Vesti-24 Television that: “The truth is on our side.”
“We act absolutely correctly, morally and in accordance with international law. Someone in Europe wants to serve someone else’’s foreign-policy interests,” he added.
To stave off tough measures, including possible EU sanctions, Moscow has sent a variety of signals that it will use its energy clout to retaliate against any European reprimand for its refusal to implement a ceasefire with Georgia.
While expectations of a tough pan-European response have steadily diminished, Europe’’s energy dependence on Moscow will be overhauled.
Officials are expected to tell EU leaders that plans to reduce the continent’’s energy dependency on imports of Russian oil and gas supplies are advanced.
A feasibility study is already underway on the costs of creating gas stockpiles to prevent Russia using the threat of switching the lights out or turning off heating supplies to pressure Europe.
British officials said that Gordon Brown would propose that the G7 - the G8 minus Russia - would begin meeting again as a route to humiliating the Kremlin.
To avoid a damaging split between EU states, other direct measures against Russia and its allies in the breakaway Georgian enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia will be left to later meetings.
Efforts behind the scenes have focused on drawing up a travel ban on individuals associated with the Russian-backed enclaves that triggered the Georgian crisis.
Officials involved believe it will take at least two weeks to agree on a list.
British PM Brown has warned that if fraught energy links with Moscow’’s were not reviewed the EU would “risk sleepwalking into an energy dependence” with Russia.
“No nation can be allowed to exert an energy stranglehold over Europe and the events of August have shown the critical importance of diversifying our energy supply,” he said.
Eventually the EU hopes to create an “energy NATO”, with pooled supplies of fuel on hand to cushion European countries, expected to rely on Russia for up to three-quarters of their natural gas by 2020.
Under the plan, if Russia threatened to cut a country off - as it did during a price dispute with Ukraine in 2007 - other EU member states would have the gas resources to come to its aid.
EU officials have also been working hard behind the scenes to develop new relationships with oil and gas producers outside Russia’’s orbit.
Officials have confirmed that energy talks are ongoing with Nigeria, including possible pipeline supply, Iraq, Algeria, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to find an alternative to oil and supplies from Russia.
Russian defiance has so far been undented. President Dimitri Medvedev said that Russia would hit back with sanctions of its own if it is penalised. (ANI)

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