MOSCOW, April 17 (RIA Novosti) - Europe cannot refuse the delivery of Russian gas without harming its own economic interests, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a live Q&A session with the public on Thursday.
“European countries take around 34%-35% of their gas balances from Russia. Can they stop purchasing Russian gas? In my view, it’s impossible,” Putin said.
Putin gave an example of Russia’s “friendly neighbor” Finland, which buys 90 percent of its gas from Russia, and some eastern European countries buy between 60 and 70 percent of their gas from Russia.
“Can we stop deliveries? In my opinion, this is completely unrealistic. Only by harming yourself, through blood is this possible, but I can’t even imagine this,” he said.
Earlier this month, a US-based financial research company Sanford C. Bernstein & Co estimated that Europe needed natural gas demand to go down by 15 billion cubic meters to be able to stop purchasing Russian gas.
Turning off the vent on the Russian gas pipeline would cause CO2 emissions to rise by 300 million tons per year, costs of tax incentives for Norwegian gas production rocket to $12 billion dollars and energy consuming businesses to close.
It will take five years to implement measures to make up for such a gas shortfall, Bernstein estimated, and more than 10,000 jobs would be eliminated in the process.
US and EU officials held high-level talks in Brussels on April 2 to discuss ways in which Washington can help Europe diversify its energy sources to reduce its dependence on Moscow. Russian energy giant Gazprom supplied about one-third of the natural gas consumed in Europe last year.