Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned a European Commission probe into Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom, saying it was "unconstructive."
Speaking on the sidelines of the annual summit of Pacific rim nations, Putin said the EU's action was prompted by the "difficult economic situation in the eurozone."
"What is going on against Gazprom is not news. You know, some foreign Gazprom offices were raided last year. This is a second step in this direction. We regret this is happening," Putin said.
Putin added that the EU wants Russia to bear the costs of "subsidizing" the economies of Central and Eastern Europe countries.
"To a large extent, the European Union subsidizes Eastern European economies. Now someone in the European Commission probably decided that we should share some burden of this subsidizing. In other words, united Europe wants to retain political influence and it wants us to pay for it. But it is not a productive approach," Putin said.
The European Commission launched its probe on September 4, saying that Gazprom is blocking competition in the Baltic states and former Soviet-bloc countries. The EU is looking into whether Gazprom "prevented the diversification of gas supplies" and "imposted unfair prices" on these customers.
Gazprom denies the allegations and says its business practices are in line with those of other gas producers.
Putin said, although the Soviet Union provided hugely subsidized energy to its communist-bloc satellites, Russia will not make nonmarket decisions and will not "take on additional obligations linked to antimarket solutions for the economies of those countries."
Putin added that he does not consider the EU probe the beginning of a "trade war" with Russia.
Based on reporting by AFP, Interfax, and ITAR-TASS