President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday instructed energy giant Gazprom to increase natural gas supplies to Germany and Austria next month after allocating sufficient reserves for Russia.
Moscow has been accused in Europe of exacerbating an energy crisis on the continent that has seen gas prices surpass records in recent weeks as economies ramp up after seeing pandemic restrictions eased.
Putin told Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller Wednesday to finish filling Russian storage facilities by November 8 and to then "start to gradually increase the volume of gas in your underground storage facilities in Europe — Austria and Germany".
During a televised meeting with energy officials, Putin said this timeline would make it possible for Gazprom to "fulfil your contractual obligations to supply European partners with gas in the autumn-winter period."
The Russian leader added that the scheduled supplies would create "a more favourable situation in the energy market in Europe as a whole".
Europe is in the throes of an energy crisis with gas prices soaring to record highs as economies come back online after the end of pandemic lockdowns and renewables like solar and wind see a slowdown in supplies.
Critics in Western capitals blame Russia for the price hikes, saying Moscow is not upping deliveries to pressure Europe to agree more long-term contracts and for the certification of the recently completed controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
The Kremlin said earlier Wednesday that talks with Moldova's pro-European government on gas prices are "exclusively commercial" and denied any political pressure was involved.