Division in EU over payment in ruble for Russia gas exports

TEHRAN, Apr. 27 (MNA) – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned companies not to bend to Russia’s demands to pay for gas in rubles, as the continent scrambles to respond to Moscow’s move to start switching off supplies.

Gazprom PJSC turned off the taps to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday in a dramatic escalation of the standoff between Russia and Ukraine’s European allies. Moscow was making good on a threat to cut supplies if payments weren’t made in local currency, and attention now turns to how Germany and Italy -- the biggest European buyers of Russian gas -- will respond, Bloomberg reported.

Europe is trying to maintain a united front, but according to a person close to Gazprom, some European companies are taking steps that would allow them to comply with Moscow’s new rules. Uniper SE, a large German buyer of Russian energy, has said it believes it can keep up purchases without breaching sanctions. 

“Companies with such contracts should not accede to the Russian demands,” von der Leyen said. “This would be a breach of the sanctions so a high risk for the companies.” 

EU unity may now be tested: as payment deadlines start falling due in the next month, governments and companies across Europe have to decide whether to meet the new rules or face the prospect of gas rationing.

Benchmark prices surged on Wednesday more than 20% but then eased as traders reassessed the chances of a wider cutoff.

Germany also reiterated that companies should keep paying in euros, following EU guidelines, and Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the threat of flows being severed had to be taken seriously.

But some companies still appear to be seeking workarounds -- and guidelines from the EU last week may be encouraging them. The bloc published a Q&A saying that companies should carry on paying in euros, but that the Russian decree setting out the new rules didn’t preclude exemptions. It told companies to seek confirmation from Moscow that paying in euros was still possible.

KI/PR

News Code 186215

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