Putin Suggests Germany Approve Nord Stream 2 to Solve Energy Crisis

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The pipeline has been contentious in U.S. politics, too. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, has blocked confirmation of dozens of Mr. Biden’s diplomatic appointments, including more than 50 would-be ambassadors, to insist that the president do more to halt European approval for Nord Stream 2.

Runaway gas prices in Europe this fall have played into Mr. Putin’s hands. Russia, the world’s largest natural gas exporter, provides about 40 percent of the gas imported to Europe, which has increasingly turned to natural gas to generate power as coal-burning plants have been shut down. As European consumers pay ever more for electricity, their patience with the intricacies of Eastern European security politics may wane.

At the conference, called Russian Energy Week, Mr. Putin noted that utility bills — and frustration — were rising in Europe. Natural gas is crucial for generating electric power, and he said electricity costs about 10 times more in European Union countries than in Russia.

Energy analysts and company executives say a variety of factors have driven up costs, including the weather, the abrupt acceleration of national economies after pandemic restrictions, and high prices in China that prompted U.S. liquefied natural gas producers to send tankers to Asia rather than Europe.

Responding to criticism that Russia is trying to manipulate the natural gas markets to win approval for Nord Stream 2, Mr. Putin denied any Russian role in driving up prices. He blamed European Union policies encouraging alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar farms. Mr. Putin also pointed out that American liquefied natural gas exporters had increased shipments to China rather than bolster supplies in Europe.

Mr. Putin said Russia had fulfilled all its contracts to send gas to Europe and had supplied more natural gas this year than last year. Russia, he said, is ready to send more if companies negotiate new deals with Gazprom.

“We are increasing” gas supplies to Europe, he said. “And if you ask us to increase more, we will. We will increase as much as our partners ask.”

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