Russia has cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after both nations refused to pay for the resource in rubles, a demand issued last month by President Vladimir Putin.
The Russian leader ordered the country’s gas exporter, Gazprom, to cut off buyers from “unfriendly” nations that fail to pay in rubles.
Moscow said it made the decision to enforce Russia’s demand for payment in rubles as a way of shielding its economy from the effect of international sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.
Poland receives about half of its gas supplies through the Yamal-Europe pipeline, which runs from Russia’s Arctic north, west to Germany – the biggest consumer of Russian energy — and other countries in Europe.
Bulgaria receives 90 percent of its gas from Russia, which is sent through pipes running from Russia through Turkey.
Gazprom said in a statement that its firm has “completely suspended gas supplies to Bulgargaz and PGNiG due to absence of payments in rubles.”
According to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the contracts call for payment in euros.
“The announcement by Gazprom that it is unilaterally stopping delivery of gas to customers in Europe is yet another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail,” she said. “This is unjustified and unacceptable, and it shows once again the unreliability of Russia as a gas supplier.”
In response, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said “Appropriate legal steps will be taken and there will be appropriate compensation from Gazprom for violations of the provisions of the contract.”
At present, Poland’s gas storage is about 76 percent full and has no need to draw on reserves, Reuters reported.
Russian gas supplies to Poland have stopped, according to Turkey’s Daily Sabah, which reported that supplies to Bulgaria are set to be cut by April 27.
Bulgarian Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov added, “It is clear that at the moment the natural gas is being used more as a political and economic weapon in the current war.”
Bulgaria is in talks to import liquified natural gas (LNG) from Turkey and Greece.