Russian President Vladimir Putin has told officials from leading energy companies that Russia is concerned about threats by "Ukrainian radicals" to disrupt gas supplies to Europe.
Addressing the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on May 24, Putin spoke about this alleged threat to Europe-bound Russian gas supplies transiting Ukraine and said, "I won’t deny that we are seriously worried."
"The situation of our neighbors once again confirms the relevance of our initiatives for direct routes of energy carriers to our clients in the European Union," he added.
Putin called on the European Commission to take action to create direct energy supply routes to Russia "to protect the interests of European consumers."
Putin also addressed calls to reduce Europe's energy dependence on Russia, saying Russia has always honored its contractual obligations to supply gas to Europe and that "loud remarks" on cutting back on Russian energy supplies were "stupid."
"Russia will not make unscrupulous use of energy prices in Asian and European markets," he said.
Putin said Russia is aware of European intentions to diversify energy suppliers. However, referring to plans to import gas from the U.S., where shale gas production has led to export capabilities, Putin said it would be more expensive for Europe than purchasing Russian gas.
He also said the European Union should take into consideration the interests of European companies working in Russia as the EU ponders imposing further sanctions on Russia for the Kremlin's role in instability in eastern Ukraine.
"These are European companies, which are working here, working for European markets for the most part, and which are taking suitcases full of cash to Europe," Putin said.
Among the measures reportedly being considered by the EU are sanctions on Russian oil and gas companies, though most concede that would be one of the most extreme options open to the EU for punishing Russia.
Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the forum a series of energy deals were signed, most involving Russian companies and companies from Asia.
In one of those deals, Russia's biggest oil company, Rosneft, signed a deal with India's ONGC to explore and develop hydrocarbon sites along Russia's continental shelf.
Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak also discussed electricity exports to Iran worth some $10 billion with officials from that country.
With reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax