President Vladimir Putin lashed out Friday against "direct attempts" to hinder the work of Russian gas giant Gazprom, at the center of deteriorating ties between Moscow and Europe over the Ukraine conflict.
European countries were heavily reliant on the company for natural gas supplies but have since raced for other sources after Russia dispatched troops to Ukraine.
Speaking during an event celebrating the company's 30-year anniversary, Putin commended its "efficiency and sustainability."
"Despite — frankly speaking — unfair competition and direct attempts from the outside to hinder and restrain its development, Gazprom is moving forward and launching new projects," Putin told a group of Gazprom employees via video link.
Moscow announced earlier this week that its gas exports were down 25% year-on-year in 2022, blaming European countries for the sharp fall-off.
In response to Russia's intervention, Germany scrapped the approval for the recently completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline which would have deepened European reliance on Russian gas supplies.
Moscow said that instead gas supplies to China last year had doubled compared to the previous year and that it hopes to further increase deliveries after losing its share in the European market.