Moscow has rejected Ottawa’s reasons for delaying the return of a vital part for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that pumps Russian gas to Germany. President Vladimir Putin suggested on Wednesday that the reasons were purely economic.
“The decision [not to return the turbine] is not based on political issues, nor on the issue of our military operation in Ukraine. The motives are pragmatic … because they [Canada] are planning to enter the European market and are developing gas production at home,” Putin said at a forum in Moscow.
Canada is the fourth largest producer of natural gas in the world and currently sells all of its surplus to the US. In March, Ottawa said that it had the capacity to increase its oil and gas exports to help improve global energy security.
President Putin also questioned the quality of the repairs and the turbine’s current technical parameters, suggesting that it might be unexpectedly switched off and stop the flow of gas through the pipeline.
The Siemens-made turbine was sent to Canada for servicing and was not retuned on time due to Ottawa’s sanctions on Russia. The delay prompted the operator Gazprom to slash supplies to Germany by 60%. After talks with Berlin, the Canadian government agreed to return the equipment via Germany.
The gas turbine is currently on its way to Russia, the EU confirmed on Wednesday, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen saying that it will arrive on time and cannot be used as an excuse not to restart deliveries to Europe when maintenance of the pipeline ends on Thursday.
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