Putin says relations with Biden “are working and are stable”

MOSCOW (AP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the Kremlin has “constructive” relations with Washington and expressed hope that mutual interests will ultimately help normalize US-Russian relations.

Putin, speaking at a panel discussion at an international energy conference in Moscow, also said Russia is ready to increase natural gas supplies to help calm nervous energy markets in Europe. , insisting that his country wanted prices to remain stable.

He angrily dismissed claims by some European experts and politicians that Russia has blocked gas supplies and pushed up energy prices as “baseless political gossip”, noting that Russian gas supplies have increased by 15% during the year and are expected to reach another save.

He noted that as Russia increased its supplies, the United States was reducing supplies of liquefied natural gas to Europe due to high demand in Asia.

“Claims that Russia has used energy as a weapon are sheer nonsense and delirium,” he said. “We are increasing supplies as much as our partners ask us to. “

Putin argued that the new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany, which bypasses Ukraine under the Baltic Sea, would be preferable to consumers because it is 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) shorter than the Ukrainian route, which leads to lower gas prices.

The Russian leader added that Gazprom could extend the gas transit contract with Ukraine which expires in 2024, but noted what he called the pitiful state of Ukraine’s gas pipeline network.

“Its gas transport system has not undergone any repairs for decades,” he accused.

Ukraine has in the past dismissed Russian criticism of its pipeline system, accusing Moscow of trying to deprive it of $ 2 billion in annual transit fees to pump Russian gas to Europe. The two neighbors have been in strong opposition since Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Ukraine.

The Russian leader also dismissed criticism of the ongoing nationwide crackdown on dissent and independent media.

Putin has firmly defended a Russian law requiring those who receive foreign funds and engage in unspecified political activity to register as “foreign agents”, describing it as a quid pro quo response to a US law used on Russian media in the USA.

Critics say Russian law has been used to muzzle critical media because the “foreign agent” stigma carries strong pejorative connotations.

Dmitry Muratov, who won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his work as editor-in-chief of independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, questioned whether authorities would designate his newspaper as a “foreign agent”.

When asked on Wednesday if that was a possibility, Putin replied that Muratov shouldn’t worry “if he doesn’t violate Russian law.”

Putin also spoke scathingly of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, accusing him of trying “to gain commercial advantage by protecting himself from political activities.” According to his custom, Putin did not name Navalny by name.

Navalny, Putin’s most adamant political enemy, was jailed this year after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was recovering from nerve poisoning he attributes to the Kremlin. The Krenlin denies the accusation. He was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for violating the terms of a suspended sentence of an embezzlement conviction in 2014 which he dismissed as politically motivated.

Commenting on Russian-American relations, Putin said that Russia’s relations with the Biden administration were “quite constructive” and that he had personally developed “stable and functional relations” with President Joe Biden.

“Mutual interests will undoubtedly lead to the normalization of our relations, and the American political establishment will stop speculating on Russian-American relations to the detriment of their own interests,” he said, noting that the two nations have common interests in arms control. , fight against terrorism and money laundering and stabilize energy markets.

Putin added that Russian diplomats and visiting US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland discussed possible additional contacts between the two presidents after their June summit in Geneva.

In comments tweeted by the US Embassy in Moscow, Nuland said she “greatly appreciates the frank and productive examination of US-Russian relations” with Putin’s foreign adviser Yuri Ushakov on Wednesday, adding that ” we remain committed to a stable, predictable relationship.

The Kremlin has yet to say whether Putin will travel to Rome to attend the Group of 20 summit later this month, which Biden is scheduled to attend.

Asked about Russia’s efforts to develop new weapons, Putin said they came in response to Washington’s decision in 2002 to withdraw from a Cold War-era treaty that banned defenses against ballistic missiles. He noted that “an arms race is underway,” but added that Russia was ready to discuss its new weapons during arms control talks with the United States.

On climate change, Putin said Russia has met its obligations to cut greenhouse gas emissions and will aim for net zero carbon emissions by 2060.

The Russian leader noted that Russia has been hit harder than others by global warming, seeing its average temperatures rise 2.5 times faster than the global average.

“And the Arctic is heating up even faster,” he added.

While most industrialized countries aim to achieve this goal by 2050, the announcement marked a major milestone for Russia, which has sought to pursue the global climate agenda without harming its economy.

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