Russian lawmaker urges Europe to revive Nord Stream 2 to solve energy crisis
(This content was produced in Russia where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine)
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Europe could solve its energy crisis by scrapping sanctions against Russia and launching the mothballed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament said on Friday.
Germany halted the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline project on Feb. 22, just two days before Russia sent its troops into Ukraine in what it calls a "special military operation", and after the Kremlin formally recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.
Some Europeans have been voluntarily cutting their energy consumption, including limiting their use of electrical appliances and showering at work to save money, while companies are bracing for possible rationing.
Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said energy security is impossible without Russia.
"The moment of truth has come for European leaders. They have two ways out of the situation they have created for themselves," he wrote on Telegram.
"The first one. Lift illegal sanctions against our country and launch Nord Stream 2. The second one. To leave everything as it is, which will lead to problems in the economy and make life even more difficult for citizens."
Europe's most divisive energy project, costing $11 billion, was finished in September 2021, but has stood idle pending certification by Germany and the European Union.
Moscow's military actions in Ukraine have triggered sweeping sanctions from the West, led to a cut in energy supplies from Russia and stoked inflation across the globe to multi-year highs.
Gas supplies via the still operational Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which runs parallel to Nord Stream 2 on the bed of the Baltic Sea, have dwindled to a fifth of normal capacity and were halted altogether on Wednesday for a three-day maintenance outage due to end on Saturday.
Russia has cited faulty or delayed equipment as the main reason for reducing deliveries via Nord Stream 1. The West has accused Russia of using energy as a tool of political coercion, which Moscow denies.
Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom owns the entire Nord Stream 2 pipeline but paid half the costs, with the rest shared by Shell, Austria's OMV, France's Engie and Germany's Uniper and Wintershall DEA.
(The story corrects day in first paragraph.)
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Kim Coghill)