And “Gazprom” has cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland due to non-payment of fuel in rubles from the two countries, in an escalation of the economic war with Europe, in response to the harsh sanctions imposed by the West on war in Ukraine.
Gazprom, which is owned by Russia and supplies around 40 percent of Europe’s gas, also warned that gas transit through Poland and Bulgaria would stop if it were illegally seized. And to extend the gas pipelines that pass through the two countries Germany, Hungary and Serbia.
Fears that the move will affect more countries, in in particular Germany, the main industrial power in Europe, which has relied on Russian gas to cover more than half of its imports in 2021
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered European countries to pay for gas in rubles in its main and broader response to Western sanctions, which included freezing valued Russian assets in hundreds of billions of dollars and isolation in much of Moscow from the Western economic system.
America condemns the use of energy as a weapon
The White House said Wednesday that Russia is mainly using energy supplies as a “weapon” by cutting off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.
“Unfortunately, this is a predictable example of what it’s like to use energy supplies as a weapon,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
European Union Energy Commissioner Kadri Simpson said on Wednesday that the European Commission advises EU countries to stick to the euro or dollar currencies in their existing gas contracts with Russia and not to to pay in rubles to buy gas.
“There is a clear directive for companies to stick to existing contracts and not to accept payments in rubles, “Simpson said during a US-EU meeting on energy.
Today the European Commission accused Moscow of blackmailing this step, but added that the Russian payment system can be used without violating the sanctions imposed by the European Union.
Warsaw and Sofia, for their part, said the disruption of supplies was a breach of contract by Gazprom, the world’s largest natural gas company.
Interestingly, Europe does not have many options given the scarcity of the world gas market even before the escalation of the crisis. Europe relies on pipelines for most of its gas supplies, and European or North African producing countries with a connection to that grid cannot add anything else to production.
LNG shipments from other more distant suppliers are generally booked on long-term contracts. The United States has offered more liquefied natural gas to European countries, but their supplies are insufficient.
Even if Europe were to get more LNG, it does not have sufficient facilities to convert it in gas.