BERLIN, April 6 Gazprom will honour
its deals to supply gas to Germany, a newspaper reported a
senior executive of the Russian exporter as saying, even as
Berlin backs tougher sanctions to deter Moscow from further
destabilisation of Ukraine.
Moscow has used energy to put pressure on its neighbours and
European customers are concerned they could be vulnerable during
the crisis over Ukraine, the worst East-West crunch since the
"Gas is no weapon, it's a commodity," Gazprom vice president
Alexander Medvedev said in an interview with the German
newspaper Handelsblatt, to be published on Monday.
"We're interested in selling this fuel in order to earn
money on behalf of our shareholders," he said.
"We will keep to our contractual obligations towards
Germany," Medvedev told the newspaper.
Russia last week nearly doubled the price Ukraine pays for
its gas, forcing Kiev to enter into emergency talks with
European neighbours to boost cheaper imports from the West.
Russia provides around one third of the European Union's oil
and gas and some 40 percent of this is exported by pipeline
through Ukraine. It is also the EU's third biggest trading
partner, importing goods worth some 123 billion euros ($168
billion) a year.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that no one
should doubt Europe's willingness to introduce tougher sanctions
against Russia should the country move further to destabilise
The European Union and the United States have responded to
Russia's annexation last month of Crimea from Ukraine by
imposing targeted visa bans and asset freezes against Russian
and Ukrainian individuals.
Following the latest Ukraine crisis, the EU has decided to
accelerate its quest for more secure energy supplies, reducing
dependence on Russian oil and gas.
Russia and Ukraine clashed over gas pricing in 2006 and then
again in 2009 when Russia turned supplies off to Ukraine during
winter months, causing supply shortfalls further on in Europe.
($1 = 0.7303 Euros)
(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Anthony Barker)