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Putin says relations with Biden 'working and stable'
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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the Kremlin has "constructive" relations with Washington and voiced hope that mutual interests would eventually help normalize U.S.-Russia ties.
Putin, speaking during a panel discussion at an international energy conference in Moscow, also said that Russia stands ready to boost natural gas supplies to help assuage nervous energy markets in Europe, insisting that his country wants prices to remain stable.
He angrily rejected the allegations from some European experts and politicians that Russia has been holding up gas deliveries and causing energy prices to spike as "baseless political chatter," noting that Russian gas supplies have risen 15% over the year and are set to reach another record.
RUSSIA CLAIMS IT CAN INCREASE SUPPLIES AND EASE EUROPE'S GAS COSTS
He noted that while Russia boosted supplies, the U.S. reduced liquefied natural gas supplies to Europe because of high demand in Asia.
"The claims that Russia has used energy as a weapon is sheer nonsense and ravings," he said. "We are increasing supplies as much as our partners are asking us."
Putin argued that the newly built Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany, which bypasses Ukraine under the Baltic Sea, would be preferable to consumers because it’s 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) shorter than the Ukrainian route, resulting in lower gas prices.
The Russian leader added that Gazprom could extend the gas transit contract with Ukraine that expires in 2024, but noted what he described as a pitiful state of the Ukrainian pipeline network.
"Its gas transportation system hasn’t seen any repairs for decades," he charged.
Ukraine in the past has rejected such Russian criticism of its pipeline system accused Moscow of trying to deprive it of $2 billion in annual transit fees for pumping the Russian gas to Europe. The two neighbors have been at sharp odds since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
The Russian leader also rebuffed criticism of an ongoing domestic crackdown on dissent and independent media.
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Putin strongly defended a Russian law requiring those who receive foreign funds and engage in unspecified political activities to register as "foreign agents," describing it as a quid pro quo response to a U.S. law used on Russian media in the United States.
Critics say the Russian law has been used to muzzle critical media outlets since the "foreign agent" stigma has strong pejorative connotations.
Dmitry Muratov, who won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his work as editor of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, wondered if authorities would designate his paper as a "foreign agent."