Europe’s response to Russia’s decision to cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria will be “immediate, united and coordinated”, guarantees Ursula von der Leyen.
Within hours, Europe responded to Russia’s decision to cut off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, a move taken in retaliation for sanctions imposed on it since it invaded Ukraine. The plan to mitigate the impact of this decision by Moscow is already underway and, guarantees Brussels, Europe will manage to become “independent of fossil fuels from Russia very quickly, once and for all”.
The guarantee was left by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at a press conference, after Gazprom announced that it had decided to interrupt the supply of natural gas to the companies Bulgargaz (from Bulgaria) and PGNiG (from Poland), a measure which the Russian state energy company says will be extended until these two countries agree to pay for fuel in rubles, as demanded by Moscow.
Both countries have already made it known that they continue to refuse to comply with Russia’s demand and, now, it is the European Commission itself that ensures that there will be no compromises. “Gazprom’s announcement that it will unilaterally cut off gas supplies to certain member states is yet another provocation by the Kremlin. But it’s no surprise that the Kremlin uses fossil fuels to blackmail us. This is something for which the European Commission has been preparing, in coordination and in solidarity with the Member States and international partners”, said Ursula von der Leyen, guaranteeing: “Our response will be immediate, united, and coordinated. ”.
To deal with Russia’s decision, the European Commission has a two-step plan in place. “First, we will ensure that Gazprom’s decision has the least possible impact on European consumers. Today, the Member States met in the gas coordination group, Poland and Bulgaria updated us on the situation and both are receiving gas from their neighbors in the European Union, which shows solidarity but also the effectiveness of past investments, for example in connectivity and gas infrastructure”, explained the President of the European Commission.
Also within the scope of this first stage, the European Commission will “intensify the work with the regional groups of the Member States, which will be able to provide the most immediate solidarity with each other, if necessary”. This, says von der Leyen, “will mitigate any impact arising from possible disruptions to the gas supply”.
The second part of the plan aims to ensure that there is storage and supply of gas in the medium term, accelerating the implementation of Repower EU, the package recently designed to reduce European dependence on Russian energy. “Our Repower EU action plan will help to significantly reduce our dependence on Russian fossil fuels as early as this year. We also reached an agreement with the United States to make more imports this year and beyond, and we are working with the Member States to secure alternative gas suppliers to our partners”, said von der Leyen, adding that “the era of Russian fossil fuels is coming to an end”.
Paying in rubles means “violating sanctions”
Asked about the existence of companies that are giving in to Russian demands and paying in rubles for the supply of natural gas, the president of the European Commission also took the opportunity to make it clear that such a decision represents a violation of the sanctions imposed by the European Union on Russia.
At issue is the news advanced this Wednesday by Bloomberg, which reports that there are four European companies that have already paid for Russian gas in rubles and that there are ten others that are preparing to do so, having already opened accounts. banknotes in rubles.
“Our guidance is very clear. Paying in rubles, if this is not provided for in the contract, is a violation of our sanctions”, began by referring to Ursula von der Leyen. “About 97% of contracts explicitly stipulate that payments be made in euros or dollars. The request from the Russian side to pay in rubles is a unilateral decision, which is not in accordance with the contracts. Companies with such contracts should not accede to such requirements, as this would mean a violation of sanctions and therefore pose a great risk to companies,” she detailed.
The president of the European Commission also said that a new package of sanctions on Russia is coming soon and reinforced the idea that the Moscow decision will have little impact on Europeans. “We have already reduced the flow of gas coming from Russia, and with the plan now presented, we will be able to become independent from Russia’s fossil fuels much faster. This is once and for all,” she concluded.
Source: With agencies