MOSCOW - Europe could solve its energy crisis by scrapping sanctions against Russia and launching the mothballed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament said on Thursday.
Germany halted the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline project on Feb 22, just two days before Russia sent its troops into Ukraine in what it calls a "special military operation", and after the Kremlin formally recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.
Some Europeans have been voluntarily cutting their energy consumption, including limiting their use of electrical appliances and showering at work to save money, while companies are bracing for possible rationing.
Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said energy security is impossible without Russia.
"The moment of truth has come for European leaders. They have two ways out of the situation they have created for themselves," he wrote on Telegram.
"The first one. Lift illegal sanctions against our country and launch Nord Stream 2. The second one. To leave everything as it is, which will lead to problems in the economy and make life even more difficult for citizens."
Europe's most divisive energy project, costing US$11 billion (S$15 billion), was finished in September 2021, but has stood idle pending certification by Germany and the European Union.
Moscow's military actions in Ukraine have triggered sweeping sanctions from the West, led to a cut in energy supplies from Russia and stoked inflation across the globe to multi-year highs.
Gas supplies via the still operational Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which runs parallel to Nord Stream 2 on the bed of the Baltic Sea, have dwindled to a fifth of normal capacity and were halted altogether on Wednesday for a three-day maintenance outage due to end on Saturday.
Russia has cited faulty or delayed equipment as the main reason for reducing deliveries via Nord Stream 1. The West has accused Russia of using energy as a tool of political coercion, which Moscow denies.
Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom owns the entire Nord Stream 2 pipeline but paid half the costs, with the rest shared by Shell, Austria's OMV, France's Engie and Germany's Uniper and Wintershall DEA. REUTERS