Russian President Vladimir Putin describes the situation in Ukraine as “civil war” and says Kyiv is abusing its position as a gas transit country, which puts Europe’s gas supply at risk.
“Russia always valued its reputation as a reliable energy supplier to Europe. Today’s risks – as they appear, the risks around gas supplies to Europe – it’s not us who are to blame,” Putin told global business leaders gathered at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
“We should say unequivocally – everyone understands who we are talking about – it’s the transiting country, Ukraine, who is to blame. This country abuses its status of gas transit country for Europe,” Putin added.
“Last year we granted, as you know, a huge loan – three billion dollars. We’ve granted a discount for this year. The question is: where’s our money? How has our multibillion assistance been spent?
‘We’ve supplied Ukraine with ten billion cubic meters of gas – for free. That’s the same amount we sell to Poland every year. Who would supply so much for free for so long?,” asked the president.
Meanwhile Russia’s top military general Valery Gerasimov said Moscow will retaliate against increased NATO activity near its border.
Since Crimea joined Russia in March, NATO has stepped up military exercises in the region to reassure nervous eastern European allies.