EU ambassadors met on Wednesday to debate addressing Vladimir Putin’s fuel threats. The Russian President had ordered that, by March 31, an inventory of “unfriendly countries”, together with EU members, should buy fuel in rubles or else face a provide reduce. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated: “Payment in proper form will be the basis for the continuation of supply.”
The Commission insisted on Wednesday that paying for fuel in rubles is forbidden because it undermines sanctions slapped down on Russia for invading Ukraine.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated: “Our guidance here is very clear.
“If this isn’t foreseen within the contract, to pay in rubles is a breach of our sanctions.”
She stressed in particular that companies with contracts denominated in euros or dollars “should not accede to the Russian demands, this would be a breach of the sanctions, so a high risk for the companies”.
It has floated the idea that companies could open accounts in Russia to pay for gas and oil.
But it said that the Kremlin would be responsible for converting the payment into rubles.
Several countries are understood to be furious with this idea, expressing their anger during yesterday’s meeting.
A source told the Telegraph: “If Gazprom (Russia’s state-backed gas giant) takes a payment in euros or dollars, as contracted, and delivers gas in exchange for payment then they have fulfilled a contract, with no involvement between EU companies and the sanctioned Russian Central Bank.”
The source added: “What they do with the money after that then becomes their internal business.”
And with no clear agreement on how to respond to the threat, Putin went ahead and stuck to his warning by cutting off Poland and Bulgaria’s gas on Tuesday night.
This is despite Bulgaria insisting that it had complied with Russian terms.
The Ministry in Sofia said: “Bulgargaz obtained a notification right now, April 26, that pure fuel provides from Gazprom Export will probably be suspended beginning April 27.
“The Bulgarian side has fully met its obligations and has made all payments required under its current contract in a timely manner, strictly and in accordance with its terms.”
But Poland fiercely rejected the Russian demand.
Piotr Naimski, Warsaw’s Commissioner for Strategic Energy Infrastructure, revealed Poland would not pay in Russian rubles and claimed the country was prepared for any retaliation from the Kremlin.
Mr Naimski said: “We is not going to pay. Various prospects and dangers are being thought-about and we’re ready for them. If it’s vital, and if such a choice is made, we’re capable of reduce ourselves off from the fuel provides at a second’s discover, and we’re prepared for Russian actions, together with an interruption in provides.”
But not each nation is taking the identical strategy.
Hungary, which has referred to as oil and fuel sanctions on Russia a “red line”, has admitted that it brokered offers with a Russian financial institution to deposit rubles into Gazprom’s account.
Gazprom is the state-owned vitality conglomerate which warned it might have to take funds in rubles.
Slovakia has additionally admitted to doing the identical.