Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has blasted recent comments by the US State Department about the country's "malign" use of its own energy resources, calling them an "insinuation" and noting that this is not the first time that Moscow has heard such claims. He added that the Kremlin expects Washington to "chew over the topic" of Russian "energy weapons" for some time in the future.
Ryabkov further noted that the US has long been resorting to scaremongering, including in the energy sphere, to pressure its allies who want to develop their ties with Russia into not doing so.
"The Americans are openly trying to 'plant a mine' under the Nord Stream 2 project. And now they have issued a number of accusations regarding [Moscow's] policy on the energy markets amid this volatile situation and drop in the demand for energy sources", Ryabkov said.
A senior US State Department official previously accused Russia of using energy as a "malign actor", but refrained from commenting on the possibility of imposing new sanctions.
"We don’t speak about sanctions. We don’t forward-look sanctions. […] Congress has also cited multiple instances where Russia has used energy as a malign actor, used it for malign purposes, and I’ll just let that stand for itself", the official said.
The US president earlier suggested that he could get "involved" in the alleged ongoing market stand-off between two major oil producers, Russia and Saudi Arabia, after crude prices fell to levels unseen since 2003. Trump didn't specify how the US would get involved. However, a report by The Wall Street Journal suggested that Washington might use sanctions against Moscow and diplomatic pressure against Riyadh to force the two to reduce their daily oil output.
Black gold’s price has dropped sharply amid concerns over the potential impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the global economy – and specifically on oil demand. The price nosedived even more following news that the parties to the OPEC+ deal had failed to reach a consensus to prolong the accord. As a result, major producers, namely Russia and Saudi Arabia, announced a sharp increase in crude output in the coming months, with Riyadh promising to sell oil at a very cheap price to customers in Europe.