Russia not turning off gas taps, buyers have weeks for rouble pay

Kremlin spokesman says no immediate end to deliveries; the decision about payments in Russian currency to come into effect from the second half of April.

The Radeland 2 compressor station for the European Gas Pipeline Link (EUGAL), a downstream pipeline for Nord Stream operated by Gascade Gastransport
The Radeland 2 compressor station for the European Gas Pipeline Link (EUGAL), a downstream pipeline for Nord Stream [File: Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg]

Buyers of Russian gas have weeks to pay for supplies in roubles, the Kremlin has said, adding that Moscow will not turn off the taps on Friday.

President Vladimir Putin signed an order on Thursday saying countries deemed hostile – those that have imposed sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine – should pay from April 1 for gas in roubles, or see their contracts halted.

Western countries have said payment in roubles would breach contracts that can take months or more to renegotiate, while Germany – Europe’s top economy and industrial powerhouse – branded the Russian decree “political blackmailing”.

Addressing reporters on Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “I was asked a lot of questions whether this means that if there is no confirmation in roubles, then gas supplies will be cut off from April 1. No, it doesn’t.”

“Payment for the actual deliveries that are going on now does not need to be made today. And it should be made somewhere at the end, in the second half of the month of April, or even at the beginning of May,” he told reporters, according to Russian news agency Interfax, adding that state-owned energy giant Gazprom would work with its customers to implement the new rules.

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(Al Jazeera)

Europe is heavily reliant on Russia for its energy needs, with about 40 percent of its gas coming from the country. If Moscow decides to halt deliveries, it could trigger supply shortages, factory closures and crippling energy costs across the region.

Peskov said Russia could at some point abandon the rouble order if conditions changed, but “in the current conditions, roubles are the most preferable and reliable option for us”.

Asked about German media reports on the possibility of Germany nationalising some Gazprom subsidiaries, Peskov said it would be a serious violation of international law.

He said Russia was witnessing “gangster actions” in relation to the seizure of its property.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies