As of this Friday, the presidential decree that imposes the use of rubles to buyers of gas Russian came into force. While the norm given by Vladimir Putin comes true, the Russian gas giant Gazprom informed its clients of the new mechanisms but without closing its pipes yet.
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“Gazprom unquestionably and fully complies with the requirements of Russian law. Today we have officially sent the notifications about the new payment mechanisms in rubles to the counterparties”said the company in a statement, assuring that it remains a reliable partner and “continues to export the gas to consumers”.
THE MOST PREFERRED VARIANT
The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskovaffirmed that this measure, approved the day before by the president of Russia was “the preferred and safest variant under current conditions”, after the West froze part of the Russian reserves in foreign currency and gold due to the military offensive in Ukraine.
Of course, he did not rule out that the payment mechanisms may vary “if conditions change”.
“There is nothing immutable about it.“, he claimed.
This measure is directed againstThe countries classified by Russia as “unfriendly”a long list that includes the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ukraine, among others, without forgetting all the countries of the European Union, many of which are not only regular buyers of Russian gas, but also depend heavily on measurement of these supplies.
Peskov sent a reassuring message by pointing out that the entry into force of the decree did not mean the immediate cut off of gas if it is not paid in rubles, since “payment for current supplies does not take place now, but in mid-April or even early May”.
And it is up to Gazprom, he explained, to work with the buyers to fine-tune the payment mechanisms, which, according to Putin, would allow the West to deposit euros and dollars in Gazprombanknot included in the Western sanctions, which would be converted to rubles that the Russian gas giant would collect.
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called Moscow’s proposed terms for gas sales “acceptable,” noting that the West pays Russia in foreign currency “and then freezes our accounts.”
Although Putin assured the day before that Russia offers “unfriendly countries” that they will have to buy gas exclusively in rubles “a clear and transparent mechanism”, which does not convince importers.
The German Chancellor, Olaf Scholzwhose country is one of the main buyers of Russian gas, which represents 55% of its consumption, reiterated the day before that Berlin would continue to pay for this fuel in euros and that it was not willing to change the form of payment.
However, he ruled out the imposition of an energy embargo against Russia due to Germany’s dependence on gas from Moscow, especially when there are no conditions to supply these supplies, a position supported by his Austrian counterpart, Karl Nehammer.
Russian gas is of great importance to Europe, which imported 155 billion cubic meters of gas in 2021, 40% of total consumption.
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In this context, the banking pirouette that allows customers to pay in foreign currency and Gazprom to collect in rubles, could be, according to what Mijaíl Krutikhin, an expert on oil and gas issues, told Efe in a telephone conversation, a sign that “Putin’s plan has failed”.
This anouncement “it was a step of patriotic propaganda”, but the Kremlin quickly understood that “the measure would have a disastrous effect on the country’s budget”, according to the analyst.
“Hence, to save face, they have designed a mechanism that will allow consumer countries to continue paying in dollars and euros.”, pointed out the expert.
In this sense, he insisted that “won’t change anything” for Russian gas importers, who will not even have to open an account in rubles at Gazprombank, the bank authorized to receive payments in foreign currency and which will be in charge of converting the currencies into rubles.
“Perhaps the only modification that needs to be made in the contracts refers to the name of the bank in which the payments are made, if it is not Gazprombank”, he ventured.
GAZPROM LEAVE GERMANY GMNH
For its part, Gazprom announced this Friday that it has abandoned its stake in the German company Gazprom Germania GmnH, as well as all its assets, including Gazprom Marketing & Trading Ltd.
“On March 31, the Gazprom group terminated its participation in the company Gazprom Germania GmbH and all its assets.”, the Russian gas company reported on its website.
The German newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Thursday that German authorities were considering nationalizing the Gazprom subsidiary in the face of a possible cessation of Russian gas supplies.
“We consider that only the study of that matter is unacceptable”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said today at a press conference, when asked about the hypothetical nationalization of Gazprom subsidiaries, as well as the Russian oil company Rosneft.
He stressed that such a plan “would be a serious violation of international law and all imaginable norms and laws”.
“We will follow the development of the situation in the most attentive wayPeskov warned.
With information from EFE.