Russian energy firm Gazprom is planning to sell its 10.52% stake in Germany’s natural gas supplier Verbundnetz Gas (VNG), as part of the company’s strategy to withdraw operations in Europe.

According to Gazprom, the company took this decision after Germany-based crude oil and natural gas producer Wintershall sold its stake in VNG last year, Reuters reported.

Both Gazprom and Wintershall jointly held a 26.31% blocking stake in the Russian energy firm. Wintershall sold its 15.79% share to German utility company EWE Aktiengesellschaft.

"The cold relation between Russia and the European Union over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine conflict has compelled the state-controlled Gazprom to reduce its exposure to Europe."

The cold relation between Russia and the European Union over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine conflict has compelled the state-controlled Gazprom to reduce its exposure to Europe, the news agency said.

As part of this effort, the company had scrapped plans to construct the undersea South Stream gas pipeline to Bulgaria in 2014. Gazprom selected a route to Turkey, instead of the one proposed.

VNG, which currently operates in the natural gas and energy industry, offers natural gas, power, heating, and water services; including information technology, marketing, technical, and telecommunication services.

In 2014, VNG reported a net profit of €224m, an increase from €174m.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported citing sources saying that EWE has also been in talks to sell its 63.69% stake in VNG. It is estimated that this deal could fetch €1.3bn.