Will Austria abandon the United States as it considers sourcing energy from Russia?

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Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said Russian President Vladimir Putin told him on Friday that Moscow would meet its commitments to deliver natural gas to Austria and was ready to discuss a prisoner swap with Ukraine.

Nehammer made the comments to reporters after the two leaders had a 45-minute phone call he described as a chance to confront Putin with the realities of the war in Ukraine and discuss prospects for humanitarian solutions.

Asked what Putin had told him about gas deliveries, the Austrian conservative replied: “He also raised the subject (and said) that all deliveries would be made in full.”

Read more: Putin says he will help overcome food crisis if…

In a separate statement, the Kremlin said Russia reaffirmed its commitment to supply natural gas to Austria, which gets 80% of its gas from Russia.

Nehammer, who visited Russia last month for talks with Putin, said the Russian leader said he was ready to discuss a prisoner swap with Ukraine.

“Whether he is really ready to negotiate is a complex question,” he added.

Russia describes the three-month-old incursion as a special military operation aimed at disarming its neighbor and ousting dangerous nationalists from power. Kyiv and its Western allies say the accusation is false and the invasion of Ukraine is an unprovoked attack.

Nehammer said Putin repeatedly defended Moscow’s actions and blamed Western sanctions for the ensuing economic disruption. He said he believed Putin was creating facts about the group to take into account in the negotiations.

Putin was ‘fully aware’ of the food security issue, Nehammer said of the conversation, adding that Putin ‘gave signals’ that he was ready to allow exports through seaports but linked progress the lifting of Western sanctions.

The Kremlin statement said Putin had discussed work to ensure safe shipping in Azov and the Black Sea, saying Ukraine should clear ports to allow free passage for stranded ships.

Read more: Here’s how Germany plans to survive without Russian gas

The United States and others accuse Russia of blockading Ukrainian ports.

Reuters with additional input from GVS News Desk

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