Vladimir Putin has threatened to turn off Europe’s gas supplies tomorrow unless Russia is paid in Roubles.
The war-mongering Russian leader said today he has signed a decree that foreign buyers must pay in roubles for Russian gas from tomorrow and in a televised address he said contracts would be halted if these payments were not made.
“It is from these accounts that payments will be made for gas delivered starting from tomorrow.
“If such payments are not made, we will consider this a default on the part of buyers, with all the ensuing consequence
“Nobody sells us anything for free, and we are not going to do charity either – that is, existing contracts will be stopped.”
Putin’s decision to enforce rouble payments for gas has boosted the Russian currency, which fell to historic lows when the West applied sweeping sanctions after he sent his army into Ukraine on February 24.
But Western companies and governments have rejected the move as a breach of existing contracts, which are set in euros or dollars.
Putin said the switch was meant to strengthen Russia’s sovereignty, and it would stick to its obligations on all contracts.
Russia supplies about a third of Europe’s gas, so energy is the most powerful lever at Putin’s disposal as he tries to hit back against sweeping Western sanctions over his invasion of Ukraine.
( Image: REUTERS)
France’s economy minister said France and Germany were preparing for a possible scenario that Russian gas flows could be halted – something that would plunge Europe into a full-blown energy crisis.
Germany relies on Russia for 40% of its gas supplies.
The country has warned a standoff is possible, which could lead to rationing.
An order signed by Putin set out a mechanism for buyers to transfer foreign currency to a special account at a Russian bank, which would then send roubles back to the foreign buyer to make payment for the gas.
He said the switch was meant to strengthen Russia’s sovereignty, and it would stick to its obligations on all contracts.
The value of the rouble plummeted from about 85 to the euro last year to 110 after the Ukraine’s invasion began.
Only for an intervention by the Russian central bank allows it to stand at 94.1 to the euro.
At such low levels, Russian exports are bringing in less money to subsidise state services and fund the war.
Demanding payments be made in roubles, will increase its value and bring in more money.
( Image: Getty Images)