Russian President Vladimir Putin last week was caught firing off a sexist remark at a US reporter, noting her physical appearance while accusing her of not listening while she pushed him on allegations that Russia was using gas supplies to Europe as a weapon.
CNBC reporter Hadley Gamble interviewed Putin live on stage in Moscow for Russian Energy Week.
Gamble had pressed Putin about claims that Russia is holding back on gas supplies to Europe in order to drive up prices, an accusation that Putin emphatically denied as “complete nonsense.”
During the Wednesday interview, Gamble asked him how Europe can trust Russia as a reliable energy fuel supplier given its slow response to a gas crisis.
“Beautiful woman, pretty, I’m telling her one thing. She instantly tells me the opposite, as if she didn’t hear what I said,” Putin said turning to the predominantly male audience.
Gamble, who appeared incredulous at the remark, responded, “Mr. President, I heard you.”
After insisting that gas supplies were increasing, Putin then added, “Did I really say something so hard to follow? Did you hear me?”
The exchange came against the background of an energy crisis in Europe where demand has gone up amid low reserves, increasing costs for consumers.
Earlier this month, Putin suggested his country could sell more gas to European spot buyers via its domestic market in addition to through existing long-term contracts.
The 27-country European Union imports about 90% of its natural gas needs. Prices are lower in the United States, which produces its gas.
Analysts say Russia’s state-controlled gas giant Gazprom has delivered all the required gas under long-term agreements but has not sold additional gas on the spot market and instead used it for domestic needs.
That has led to criticism from some analysts and some European politicians, who accused Russia of withholding gas to pressure German and European authorities into speeding final regulatory approval for the recently completed Nord Stream 2. The pipeline is designed to deliver gas directly to Germany, bypassing Poland and Ukraine.