Russia’s deputy PM says Moscow can supply gas to Pakistan, Afghanistan

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said his country was ready to resume supplying gas to Europe through the Yamal-Europe Pipeline and could also send supplies to Pakistan and Afghanistan in the long-term.

According to the state-run TASS news agency which quoted him on Sunday, Novak said, “The European market remains relevant, as the gas shortage persists, and we have every opportunity to resume supplies.”

“For example, the Yamal-Europe Pipeline, which was stopped for political reasons, remains unused,” he mentioned the pipeline that usually flows westward, but has been mostly reversed since December of 2021 as Poland turned away from buying from Russia in favour of drawing on stored gas in Germany.

In May, Warsaw terminated its agreement with Russia, after earlier rejecting Moscow’s demand that it pays in roubles.

Russian supplier Gazprom responded by cutting off supply and also said it would no longer be able to export gas via Poland after Moscow imposed sanctions against the firm that owns the Polish section of the Yamal-Europe pipeline.

Novak also reiterated that Moscow is discussing additional gas supplies through Turkey after creation of a hub there.

He also said that Moscow expects it will have shipped 21 billion cubic metres (bcm) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe in 2022. “This year we were able to significantly increase LNG supplies to Europe,” Novak said. “In the 11 months of 2022, they increased to 19.4 bcm, by the end of the year 21 bcm are expected.”

In a wide-ranging interview with the TASS agency, parts of which have been published throughout the weekend, Novak also said that in the long term, Russia can send its natural gas to the markets of Afghanistan and Pakistan, either using the infrastructure of Central Asia, or in a swap from the territory of Iran.

He also said that Russia had agreed with Azerbaijan to increase gas supplies for its domestic consumption. “In the future, when they increase gas production, we will be able to discuss swaps,” Novak said, adding that Moscow was also discussing higher supplies of its gas to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, he said.

Putin’s promise

The latest statement came as President Vladimir Putin had told Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in September that the supply of Russian gas to Pakistan was possible, with part of infrastructure ready, but there was an issue of stability in Afghanistan.

“The issue is about pipeline gas supplies from Russia to Pakistan, which is also possible, which means part of infrastructure has already been created, meaning Russia, Kazakhstan, [and] Uzbekistan. We have to solve the Afghan issue,” Putin said when speaking about energy projects.

“Of course, there are problems connected with political stability, but having in mind our mutually good relations with the Afghan people, I hope this problem can also be solved, I mean Pakistan’s influence on the situation in the country,” he added.

Overall, Moscow and Islamabad have other very interesting and ambitious projects, particularly in the energy sector, the Russian president noted. He also mentioned the Pakistani Stream project, which suggests the creation of infrastructure for supplies of liquefied natural gas.

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