Oil and gas prices renew multi-year highs.

The rapid rise in energy prices caused alarm among European leaders, and on Wednesday, volatility in world markets, giving rise to fears about a possible winter fuel crisis that could play into the hands of Russia, with its natural gas reserves.

U.S. oil prices briefly peaked in almost seven years. Natural gas prices hit record levels, while China and other major consumers struggle to cope with increased demand, which has recovered faster than expected amid falling coronavirus cases.

In Europe, natural gas prices have soared by almost 600 percent this year due to concerns that the available reserves will not be enough for the winter. In the United States, natural gas futures recently hit a 12-year high.

As consumers faced a sharp increase in fuel costs during the winter period, energy prices on Wednesday took center stage on the political agenda of the European Union.

“We must be clearly aware that gas prices are rising rapidly,” said the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, calling for a renewed focus on renewable energy sources.

The European Union imports 90 percent of the gas it consumes.

Von der Leyen noted that Russia did not follow Norway’s example and did not increase supplies.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia is increasing gas supplies to Europe and is ready to stabilize the market.

However, according to the deputy general director of the Russian gas giant Gazprom, the company continues pumping natural gas into underground storage facilities in Russia. Gazprom also said this week that it would prioritize the domestic market rather than export sales, as a cold and snowy winter is expected.

Russia has repeatedly denied the existence of any political agenda in this matter.

“There is and cannot be any role for Russia in what is happening on the gas market in Europe,” said Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of the Russian president.

However, some European parliamentarians believe that Gazprom is not increasing the volume of gas supplies to achieve early approval of the new “Nord Stream-2” gas pipeline.