EU energy ministers hold crisis talks after Russian gas cuts

(EurActiv, 2 May 2022) Energy ministers from European Union countries hold emergency talks on Monday (2 May), as the bloc strives for a united response to Moscow’s demand that European buyers pay for Russian gas in rubles or face their supply being cut off.

Russia halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland last week after they refused to meet its demand to effectively pay in rubles.

Poland was prepared to stop using Russian gas this year, but the move has raised fears that other EU countries, including Europe’s gas-reliant economic powerhouse Germany, could be next.

It has also threatened to crack the EU’s united front against Russia amid disagreement on the right course of action.

With many European companies facing gas payment deadlines later this month, EU states have a pressing need to clarify whether companies can keep buying the fuel without breaching the EU’s sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow has said foreign gas buyers must deposit euros or dollars into an account at the privately owned Russian bank Gazprombank, which would convert them into rubles.

The European Commission has told countries that complying with Russia’s scheme could breach EU sanctions, while also suggesting countries could make sanctions-compliant payments if they declare the payment complete once it has been made in euros and before its conversion into rubles.

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EurActiv, 2 May 2022: EU energy ministers hold crisis talks after Russian gas cuts