Western countries attempting to exclude Russian energy suppliers will affect the world economy and Moscow should redirect its energy exports towards Asia, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
“We need to proceed on the basis that in the foreseeable future, supplies of energy to the West will be reduced,” Putin told a televised government meeting on the energy sector on Thursday.
Western governments have imposed far-reaching sanctions on Russia’s financial sectors in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, and have also announced measures to ban or reduce the use of Russian oil, gas and coal.
Putin said Russia, which accounts for approximately one-tenth of global oil production and about one-fifth of global gas supplies, should continue in the direction it has taken in recent years and “step-by-step, shift the direction of our exports to the fast-growing markets of the South and East”.
“Attempts by Western countries to push out Russian suppliers, replace our energy resources with alternative deliveries, will inevitably affect the whole global economy,” Putin said.
Europe would not be able to replace all Russian gas immediately, he added.
“So-called partners from unfriendly countries assume that they can avoid Russian energy resources, including natural gas. Its reasonable replacement for Europe doesn’t exist. It is possible, but it doesn’t exist so far. Everyone understands there is no free volume [of energy resources] on the world market.”
Russia supplies approximately 40 percent of the EU’s natural gas, and Western sanctions over Moscow’s war in Ukraine have hit its energy exports by complicating the financing and logistics of existing deals.
Putin also called for the acceleration of infrastructure projects, such as railways, pipelines and ports, that will redirect oil and gas supplies from the West to “promising” markets in the global East and South, ordering his officials to present a plan by June 1 on “expanding transport infrastructure to countries of Africa, Latin America (and the) Asia Pacific”.
Russia launched pipeline gas supplies to China at the end of 2019 and in February agreed on a 30-year contract via a new pipeline, which has yet to be built.