Despite being one of Russia's closest collaborators on energy projects, Germany intends to use its current six-month presidency of the EU to push Moscow for concrete assurances on the future reliability of its energy supplies to Europe, Reuters has reported.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that a focus of her government’s presidency of the EU will be to secure a new agreement between the EU and Russia, which will contain assurances regarding the reliability of Russia’s future energy supplies.

In a somewhat surprisingly frank assessment given to ZDF television, Ms Merkel said: Russia was a dependable delivery partner in the past. But we are wrestling with Russia right now about strengthening this (commitment), their recognition of this, in the EU-Russia cooperation pact.

The challenging statement comes despite the fact that Germany has been at the forefront of forging a new, closer relationship with Russia and its energy firms of late. Major companies from the two nations have teamed up to build the North European Pipeline, which will pipe gas direct from Russian to Germany.

However, the development also comes in the wake of consecutive New Year supply disruptions due to Russia falling out with its neighbors. Last year, gas supplies to western Europe were disrupted by a Russian dispute with Ukraine and, currently, supplies of oil are blocked to Poland and Germany because of an argument between Moscow and Minsk.