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Kremlin says gas isn't a political issue

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh (L) looks on as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (C) shkaes hands with Portugal's Prime Minister Jose Socrates before NATO Russia Council meeting during NATO summit in Lisbon on November 20, 2010. . UPI
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh (L) looks on as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (C) shkaes hands with Portugal's Prime Minister Jose Socrates before NATO Russia Council meeting during NATO summit in Lisbon on November 20, 2010. . UPI | License Photo

MOSCOW, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Russian efforts to diversify its natural gas export options aren't meant to make European consumers more dependent, the Russian president said Monday.

A stormy relationship between gas transit nation Ukraine and Russian energy monopoly Gazprom prompted Russia to propose its Nord Stream and South Stream gas pipelines as ways to diversify export options.

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed allegations that both projects were part of an effort to tighten the Russian stranglehold on the European energy sector.

"When Nord Stream or South Stream are sometimes portrayed as Moscow's attempt to make Europe dependent on energy supplies from Russia, this looks like a dishonest and perhaps absolutely unjustified manipulation," he was quoted by Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying. "These are mutually advantageous and absolutely apolitical things in my opinion."

Nord Stream, which is half completed, runs through the Baltic Sea to Germany. South Stream will run through southern Europe and the Turkish waters of the Black Sea.

Medvedev added that Moscow was keen to send its gas to as many consumers as possible, noting trade with the European Union already stood at more than $260 million per year.

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"It is possible to call Nord Stream a political project," the Russian president added. "If energy diversification in Europe and guaranteed energy supplies from Russia are political issues, then this is a political project."

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