Polish and Bulgarian officials said Russia was cutting off gas supplies to their countries after Russia refused to pay Russian roubles, a request made by Russian President Vladimir Putin as Western countries tighten sanctions over Ukraine’s war .
The suspension will take effect at 8am local time (06:00 GMT) on Wednesday, Polish state-owned PGNiG quoted Russian energy giant Gazprom as saying.
Bulgaria’s Bulgarian company has also received a notification from Gazprom that it will suspend gas supplies from April 27, the Bulgarian economy ministry said.
Gazprom did not confirm the move, but Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told reporters that the company stressed on Tuesday that Poland “is obliged today to follow the new payment procedure,” TASS reported. Pay for gas supplies.”.
Russia has stopped gas supplies to Poland under its Yamal contract, Reuters reported, citing data from a network of European gas transmission operators. But it said there was no word if supplies from Bulgaria were also cut.
The planned suspension would be the first since Putin announced last month that “unfriendly foreign buyers” would have to deal with Gazprom in rubles instead of dollars and euros. Only Hungary agreed to do so, the other countries rejected the request as an unacceptable one-sided breach and breach of sanctions.
If supplies to other countries also stop, it could cause economic pain in Europe, push up gas prices and possibly lead to rationing – but it would also deal a blow to Russia’s own economy.
Ukraine responded to the reported move, accusing Russia of blackmailing Europe over energy, saying the move was aimed at undermining its allies.
“The ultimate goal of the Russian leadership is not only to seize Ukrainian territory, but also to dismember the whole of central and eastern Europe, with a blow to global democracy,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said late Tuesday.
Andriy Yermak, his chief of staff, said Russia had “began gas blackmailing Europe”.
“Russia is trying to undermine the unity of our allies,” Yermak said.
“There is no shortage of Polish families”
Poland’s national gas company PGNiG said Wednesday’s shutdown would affect Russian gas deliveries to Poland via the Yamal-Europe pipeline and to Bulgaria via the TurkStream pipeline.
Yamal-Europe ships natural gas from Russia to Poland and Germany, via Belarus. Poland receives about 9 billion cubic meters per year, covering about 45% of the country’s needs.
PGNiG said it was considering legal action against Moscow’s payment demands.
But Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his country does not need to tap reserves because its gas storage facilities are 76% full. He also said the country is ready to get the necessary supplies from sources other than the Yamal pipeline.
Poland’s climate minister Anna Moskwa also said Poland was ready to do something after working to reduce its reliance on Russian energy. The country opened its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Swinoujscie on the Baltic coast a few years ago, and a pipeline from Norway will be operational later this year.
“Polish households will not be short of gas,” Moskova tweeted.
Bulgaria, which depends almost entirely on Russian gas imports, said it was working with state-owned gas operators Bulgargaz and Bulgartransgaz to find alternative sources and would not impose restrictions on domestic consumption for now.
Poland has been a staunch supporter of neighboring Ukraine during the Russian invasion and acted as a staging point for the United States and other Western countries to supply Kyiv with weapons.
Warsaw said this week that it was also sending weapons to the Ukrainian army in the form of tanks. On Tuesday, it announced sanctions on 50 Russian oligarchs and companies, including Gazprom.
Bulgaria, once one of Moscow’s closest allies, has severed many ties with Russia after the new liberal government came to power in December and after the invasion. It supports sanctions against Russia and provides humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
Bulgaria has been hesitant to provide military aid, but Prime Minister Kirill Petkov and members of his coalition government are expected to hold talks on further aid in Kyiv on Wednesday.
Europe buys a lot of Russian gas for residential heating, power generation and the fuel industry, and Germany is particularly reliant on it. Imports continued despite the war.
About 60% of imported goods are paid in euros and the rest in dollars. Putin’s request was apparently to help prop up the Russian currency against Western sanctions.
In Washington, D.C., White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. has been preparing for a Russian shutdown.
“Some of these are asking some oversupplied countries in Asia to supply this product to Europe,” Psaki said. “In some cases, we’ve done that and we’ve been working on it.”