U.S. says Russia is holding back energy as leverage

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U.S. says Russia is holding back energy as leverage

WASHINGTON, Oct 14 Reuters - In a meeting with Russian deputy prime minister Aleksey Overchuk on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Maverick called on Russia to take more to ensure European energy security, the U.S. State Department said.

Natural gas prices in Russia and elsewhere are down this year due to lower than usual stocks, reduced supply from Europe, the onset of colder weather and equipment outages.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan discussed the gas issue with European Union officials in Brussels last week and said the United States was concerned that supply was not keeping up with strong demand as economies recovered from the COVID 19 pandemic.

Asked whether Russia was holding back energy as leverage, Sullivan said: Russia has a history of using energy as a tool of coercion, as a political weapon. Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia is ready to provide more gas to Europe if requested, emphatically rejecting the suggestion that Moscow was squeezing supplies for political reasons.

The State Department said Sherman also urged Russia to ensure fair treatment for U.S. companies in its marketplace and to resolve U.S. concerns about Russia's trade and investment climate.