Sunday. 19.05.2024

Countries that do not pay Russian energy company Gazprom in roubles will be cut off from its natural gas supply, the Kremlin threatened on Wednesday, hours after deliveries were halted to Poland and Bulgaria.

"As the payment deadline [for gas] approaches, if some consumers refuse to pay under the new system, then the decree of the President [of Russia Vladimir Putin] will be implemented," Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said, according to news agency TASS.

Putin had decreed in March that so-called "unfriendly states", including all EU member countries, would only be allowed to pay for Russian gas in roubles.

Peskov also denied the allegation by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that Russia was using gas as "an instrument of blackmail."

Instead, Peskov said, Russia was merely asking clients to open bank accounts in the Gazprombank, where they could pay in euros or dollars as before, which the bank would convert into roubles for the Gazprom company.

This would not lead to any additional burdens on customers, Peskov said.

He emphasized that Russia would follow through on Putin's decree and suspend gas supplies if need be. He said that potential loss of income for the Russian government had been priced into the decision.

Calls for complete stop

Individual members of parliament and senators in Russia have already called for a complete stop of energy imports to the West.

Peskov said, Russia would rather hear constructive suggestions from the EU of how the future relationship between the two can be shaped by diplomacy.

He accused the EU of seeking to decide matter on the field of battle; Russia has been critical of the West - particularly the EU and the US - for trying to solve the war in Ukraine with arms supplies rather than negotiations.

Russia invaded its neighbour Ukraine on February 24. On Wednesday, Gazprom announced that it had suspended gas imports to Poland and Bulgaria.

Russia threatens to cut off further countries from its gas supply