EU to increase Russian gas imports through nations accepting rubles as payment - media

The EU aims to make up for a gas supply shortage in member states who disobey the requirement to utilize Russian rubles.

According to the TASS news agency, which cited a government source in Brussels, the European Union intends to dramatically boost the amount of Russian natural gas it buys from nations willing to pay in rubles.

The Gas Coordinating Group held an emergency meeting today due to the circumstances in Poland and Bulgaria. Poland and Bulgaria will be able to buy more gas on the European market thanks to a temporary decision to considerably enhance gas purchases from Russia through the remaining channels. The insider was described as adding, "The EU is also collaborating with all partners to secure an increase in gas supply, particularly liquefied natural gas (LNG)."

The action aims to make up for Poland and Bulgaria's loss of supplies after Russian energy giant Gazprom said that it will stop supplying those two nations with gas because they had refused to abide by the new ruble-based gas payment method. To transfer payments, Russia mandated last month that buyers from "hostile" nations open ruble accounts with Russian banks. Only nations that imposed sanctions on Moscow as a result of Russia's military action in Ukraine are covered by the measure.

"In the long run, EU members confirm their aim to reduce or stop receiving gas from Russia and replace it with other sources in the shortest amount of time—within months or years. The source said, echoing prior claims made by other EU officials who urged the group to lessen its reliance on Russian gas in light of the developments in Ukraine. "The EU will accelerate the transition to green energy," the person said.

The source added that Poland and Bulgaria are technically capable of receiving both pipeline gas from the European market and LNG and are not expected to encounter a gas shortage in the foreseeable future, according to EU estimations. However, he continued, Brussels sees Russia's cessation of supplies to Warsaw and Sofia because they refuse to pay in rubles as a breach of long-term agreements with these nations.

At least ten European corporations have opened accounts to pay for Russian gas in rubles, according to a Bloomberg article from earlier on Wednesday. Four of these companies have already made payments in compliance with Moscow's new requirement. According to a source in Gazprom quoted by the journal, should more nations reject the new payment obligation, Russia is unlikely to stop supplying them until the second part of May, when the next payments are due.

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