Home News EU energy ministers meet in crisis after Russia cut off gas supplies

EU energy ministers meet in crisis after Russia cut off gas supplies

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Russia cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland last week after it refused to comply with Moscow’s request to pay in rubles. The two countries have already planned to stop using Russian gas by the end of this year, and authorities say they can cope with the disruption of Russian gas supplies. However, the disruption of supplies to Bulgaria and Poland has raised concerns that other EU countries, including Germany, the main European economy, could be the next.

In addition, Moscow’s actions risk cracking down on the EU’s united front against Russia amid differing views on how to respond.

Given that many European companies have gas payment deadlines later this month, EU member states must urgently clarify whether companies can continue to buy Russian gas without violating EU sanctions on Moscow for invading Ukraine.

Moscow has told foreign gas buyers that it must open an account with Russia’s Gazprombank state bank, in which to deposit euros or dollars, and the Russian bank will convert the amounts into rubles.

In response, the EU executive told member states that complying with Moscow’s requirements would mean violating EU sanctions, but at the same time suggested to EU countries that they could make payments that met sanctions if they declared the payment completed once it was made. euro and before conversion to rubles.

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After Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Poland, Slovakia and other Member States called for clarification last week, Brussels has decided to draw up further guidance.

The ruble payment could help Russia’s economy cope with the impact of international sanctions, as revenues from oil exports help Moscow finance what it calls a “special military operation.” According to a study by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air, EU countries paid more than 45 billion euros for Russian oil and gas alone after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th.

Russia is responsible for 40% of gas imports and 26% of EU oil imports, a dependency that explains why Germany and other states have so far been reluctant to halt oil imports from Russia for fear of damage. economy.

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The European Union is leaning towards a ban on oil imports from Russia at the end of the year, say two European diplomats consulted by Reuters, following talks that have taken place in recent days between the European Commission and EU member states.

The bloc is preparing for a sixth round of sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. The new sanctions package would target Russian oil, Russian and Belarusian banks, as well as several individuals and companies.

The European Commission, which is coordinating the EU’s response, has had a series of talks in recent days with several groups of EU member states and plans to present plans for a new package of sanctions at Wednesday’s meeting of EU ambassadors to the EU. Brussels.

According to diplomats, Germany seems willing to accept an embargo from the end of 2022, but countries such as Austria, Hungary, Italy and Slovakia still have some reservations.

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