The head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said Russia has the capacity to send substantially more gas to Europe and alleviate the energy crisis gripping the continent, in an intervention likely to bolster claims that the country is withholding crucial supplies.

Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA, told the Financial Times that the agency’s own analysis suggested Russia could raise exports by roughly 15% of peak winter supply to the continent.

Speaking the day after President Vladimir Putin hinted at a boost to shipments, Birol urged Russia to prove it is a “reliable supplier” by helping alleviate a supply crunch that has rocked energy prices and threatened the global recovery from pandemic lockdowns.

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