ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Russia is cutting natural gas flows to Europe in retaliation for sanctions, adding that Europe is "reaping what it sowed".
Fears in Europe have increased over a potentially bleak winter after Russia announced it was keeping its main gas pipeline to Germany shut.
Russia indefinitely halted the flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and has cut or shut down supplies on three of its biggest westward gas pipelines since its invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24. Oil supplies have also been redirected eastwards.
"Europe is actually reaping what it sowed," Erdogan told reporters in Ankara on Tuesday, adding that sanctions drove Putin to retaliate using energy supplies.
"Putin is using all his means and weapons, and the most important of these is natural gas. Unfortunately - we wouldn't want this but - such a situation is developing in Europe," Erdogan said.
"I think Europe will experience serious problems this winter. We do not have such a problem," he added.
NATO-member Turkey has sought to strike a balance between Moscow and Kyiv by criticising Russia's invasion and sending arms to Ukraine, while opposing the Western sanctions and continuing trade, tourism and investment with Russia.
Turkey, which has Black Sea borders with both Russia and Ukraine, has said joining sanctions against Russia would have hurt its already strained economy and argued that it is focused on mediation efforts.
Moscow blames disruption to equipment maintenance caused by Western sanctions for its halt to the flow of gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipe. European countries call that nonsense, accusing Russia of weaponising energy supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)