The European Union does not intend to provide Russia with a way to circumvent sanctions and pay for Russian gas in rubles. This was stated by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Reuters reported.
“This is a unilateral decision and would be a blatant breach of contract. This will be an attempt to circumvent sanctions, we will not allow actions to circumvent our restrictions. The era when energy can be used for blackmail is over,” he said.
According to Ursula von der Leyen, paying in rubles for natural gas is “unacceptable” for Brussels.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia will not accept payments for Russian gas supplies in “self-compromising” currencies, including the euro and dollar, with which deals were previously concluded.
He added that changes in gas contracts will only affect currencies, while supply quantities will remain the same in accordance with contract prices and pricing principles.
In Europe, Putin’s statement caused confusion. Klaus Ernst, chairman of the Bundestag’s committee on energy and climate protection, said that there is a technical possibility for payments in rubles. However, he added that the EU’s forcibly circumventing its own sanctions would “revive the debate about the embargo on Russian energy supplies”.
Susanna Ungrad, spokesperson for the German Ministry of Economy and Climate Protection, said that Berlin has taken into account the Kremlin’s message and will discuss it with EU officials and the European business community.
PGNiG (Poland) warned that there is no opportunity to pay Russia in rubles for gas. A similar opinion was expressed by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa – he said that “no one in Europe” will pay rubles for gas.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Russia’s decision to accept gas supply in rubles has become a big problem for the world.
Vučić noted that the country’s neighbors such as Hungary are also included in the list of hostile countries. He expressed the view that Budapest does not have the opportunity to act differently in the current situation and expressed his concern that Hungary will not be able to pay for natural gas in rubles.
We do not have our own gas and oil, we are 100% dependent on imports. For many small countries this will be unbearable,” said the Serbian leader.
A spokesman for Russian President Dmitry Peskov soon after said that Belgrade’s concerns would be a priority and top priority for Moscow.
The situation with Bulgaria is different. “[Софии] The Kremlin spokesman also said it should be for the ruble whether he likes it or not, whether he likes it or not.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo also expects a reduction in gas prices due to the decision of the Russian authorities. Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer opposed a boycott of oil and gas supplies from Russia. “This is unrealistic and wrong. Austria gets 80 percent of its natural gas from Russia. The controversy alone is damaging this issue and inflating energy prices,” he said.
A boycott or embargo of Russian energy carriers is being actively discussed as a possible next step in response to the Kremlin’s “ruble” move.
According to Reuters sources, EU countries are working on a fifth package of sanctions against Russia and are considering the possibility of imposing an oil embargo on Russia. Similar opinions are expressed about gas.
Again, Europe will not be able to replace Russian gas in the next five yearsDeputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said.
German Economy Minister and German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habek admitted that Germany cannot yet impose an embargo on coal, oil and gas from Russia.
“Yes, we are not in a position to immediately impose an embargo on coal, oil and natural gas from Russia. It must be accepted, and it is painful enough to accept it. But just because we can’t do it yet doesn’t mean we haven’t done anything. Step by step, we are now strategically reducing coal, oil and gas.”
Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, stressed that Europe “boasted” when talking about the possibility of rejecting Russian gas. According to him, the decision to supply gas for the ruble is obvious, “let them find ways to pay.”