Following the public criticism of Shell's Sakhalin-2 project permit being revoked from around the globe, Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has told reporters that the move does not mean the country is pulling out of agreements regarding the project.

Mr Lavrov told reporters in New York that Russia is a long way from backing out of agreements we have reached. The deal with Shell was originally struck in the early 1990s, but Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry recently revoked Shell’s permit for the Sakhalin-2 project, prompting outcry from government officials in Europe, Japan and the US.

Mr Lavrov also insisted that the permit problems were related to environmental regulation issues rather than being politically motivated. However, whether this will wash with western governments and companies remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, reports in the Japanese press have been suggesting that Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp are considering selling part of their stake in the Sakhalin-2 project to Russia’s Gazprom, although this has not been confirmed.

In other news, Russia’s relations with Europe have also been the subject of summit talks between Russian president Vladimir Putin, French president Jacques Chirac and German chancellor Angela Merkel. During the talks, President Putin attempted to reassure the French and German leaders about the security of European energy supplies, stressing that cooperation on energy matters was a priority for the Russian government.