Putin warns against excluding Russia from energy decisions
Defends the Nord and South Stream pipeline projects
Attempts to exclude Russia from global energy decision making are counterproductive, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Monday in a landmark address to the lower house of parliament.
The European Union signed an agreement with Ukraine in late March on modernizing the country`s Soviet-era pipelines, triggering an angry reaction from Russia, which exports most of its Europe-bound gas via Ukraine. Moscow said the deal failed to take its interests into account.
"Attempts to exclude Russia from the process of decision making in the energy sphere, ignoring its legitimate interests, are counterproductive," Putin said in his first report to the State Duma, required under a change to the constitution passed earlier this year.
He defended the Nord and South Stream pipeline projects, the Caspian gas pipeline and the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline Russia is building jointly with Bulgaria and Greece as "meeting strict environmental standards and serving global energy security" despite a lack of support for them on the part of some countries.
Putin said the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline would reach the Chinese border in the next few weeks.
Moscow and Beijing signed an intergovernmental agreement on the construction of an ESPO branch toward China and long-term Russian oil supplies in February.
"The first leg of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline has been brought into operation," the prime minister said. "The stage that reaches the Chinese border will be completed literally in the next few weeks."
He also said the Russian economy, which cut energy consumption by 5% in 2008, was becoming "more competitive."