NEW DELHI: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday (early Wednesday in Manila) he is seeking stronger energy ties with Asia over the West, amid tensions with the US and its European allies over the crisis in the Ukraine.
Putin is set to travel to India for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his right-wing government to expand already close energy and strategic ties with New Delhi.
Ahead of his arrival late on Wednesday, Putin said in an interview that Russia expected to secure a “role of a reliable energy supplier to the Asian markets.”
“Historically, Russia has exported most of its hydrocarbons to the West,” he told the Press Trust of India news agency.
“However, European consumption is increasing too slowly, while political, regulatory and transit risks are on the rise,” he said.
“At the same time, the economies of Asian countries are growing rapidly. Thus, we are naturally interested in diversifying the destinations of our energy deliveries,” Putin added.
The president’s visit comes after Moscow cancelled a $50-billion South Stream pipeline on December 1 meant to pump gas to Europe without going through the Ukraine.
The pipeline was the latest casualty of Russia’s deteriorating relations with the West, as sanctions by the US and European Union have piled up over the Kremlin’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
Putin also said he wanted to strengthen oil and natural gas projects with India, singling out cooperation over the Sakhalin-1 project, and build more nuclear power units in the energy-hungry South Asian country.
“In view of the fact that Russia currently implements large-scale energy projects, we are interested in attracting new investments and technologies, including from India,” he added.
Russia was building two units near Chennai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, with an agreement for two more, while Moscow was looking to invest in many others.
“Our resources enable us to build up to 25 energy units in India,” Putin said.
“According to experts, however, even these units may not meet the needs of dynamically developing economy of India,” he added.
Putin said he intends “to discuss the prospects for further development of our cooperation in the domain of nuclear energy” during his meeting with Modi.