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MOSCOW, April 17 Russian President Vladimir
Putin said on Thursday it would not be possible for Europe,
which is trying to cut its reliance on Russian energy, to
completely stop buying Russian gas.
Putin also said that the transit via Ukraine is the most
dangerous element in Europe's gas supply system, and that he was
hopeful a deal could be reached with Ukraine on gas
Russia meets around 30 percent of Europe's natural gas
needs. Moscow's actions in Ukraine have spurred attempts by the
continent to reduce its dependency on oil and gas supplies from
the former Cold War foe.
"Of course, everyone is taking care about supply
diversification. There, in Europe, they talk about increasing
independence from the Russian supplier," said Putin.
"It's just like we begin to talk and take action towards
independence from our consumers," he added. Russia has made
efforts to forge closer ties with Asia.
Reuters calculations suggest Europe's efforts could slash
imports from Russia by around 45 billion cubic metres (bcm) by
2020, worth $18 billion a year, equivalent to a quarter of what
Russia currently supplies.
"We sell gas in European countries which have around 30-35
percent of their gas balance covered by supplies from Russia.
Can they stop buying Russian gas? In my opinion it is
impossible," he said during an hours-long televised question and
(Reporting by Christian Lowe, Vladimir Soldatkin and Polina
Devitt, writing by Megan Davies and Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing
by John Stonestreet)