Did Russian President Vladimir Putin force EU countries to pay for their gas in rubles?!
Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : Putin Forced EU Countries To Pay For Gas In Rubles!
People are sharing a comic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a story of how he cleverly forced EU countries like Poland, Austria and Bulgaria to pay for gas in rubles.
Truth : Putin Did NOT Force EU Countries To Pay For Gas In Rubles!
The truth is this is just more pro-Russian propaganda and FAKE NEWS, and here are the reasons why…
Fact #1 : EU Countries Have Gas Contracts With Gazprom In USD / Euros
First, we need to establish the fact that EU countries like Poland, Austria and Bulgaria have existing gas contracts with Russian energy company Gazprom.
On 23 March 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian central bank, government and Gasprom to demand that “unfriendly countries” must pay for their gas in rubles.
However, as those existing gas contracts are specifically stipulated to be paid in US dollars or Euros, it would be a material breach of contract.
Fact #2 : Poland Refuses To Pay For Gas In Rubles
Gazprom stopped exporting gas to Poland on 27 April 2022, after Poland refused to pay for the gas in rubles.
The Polish state gas company PGNiG, has an existing contract with Gazprom to provide 53% of its gas imports to be paid in Euros. They described the suspension of gas supply as a breach of contract, and said that they will take steps to reinstate the gas supply.
However, Poland continues to refuse to pay Gazprom in rubles.
Fact #3 : Poland Does Not Need Russian Gas
The Polish deputy foreign minister said that Poland has “taken some decisions many years ago to prepare for such a situation“, and can cope without gas from Gazprom.
Poland also formally commissioned a new gas interconnection with Lithuania on 5 May 2022, eventually providing billion cubic metres of LNG per year.
Fact #4 : Bulgaria Refuses To Pay For Gas In Rubles
Gazprom also stopped exporting gas to Bulgaria on 27 April 2022, because Bulgaria refused to pay for the gas in rubles.
Bulgarian Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov said that Gazprom will be in breach of its contract if it stops supplying gas.
However, Bulgaria continues to refuse to pay Gazprom in rubles.
Fact #5 : Bulgaria Does Not Need Russian Gas
Despite relying on Gazprom for 90% of its gas supply, Bulgaria said that it had taken steps to find alternative sources, and that no restrictions on gas consumption was currently required.
Interestingly, Bulgarian gas network operator Bulgartransgaz said that Gazprom was still supplying gas to Bulgaria…
Fact #6 : Austria Refuses To Pay For Gas In Rubles
Austria publicly denounced the fake news that they agreed to pay for Russian gas in rubles. In a Twitter post, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said :
Fact #7 : EC Did Not Licence Payment For Gas In Rubles
The fake news also falsely claimed that the European Commission licensed European countries to buy gas from Russia with the ruble.
There is no such “licence”.
In fact, the European Commission has specifically stated that EU companies must pay for Russian gas in euros or US dollars to avoid breaching sanctions.
Fact #8 : GazpromBank Is Converting Payments To Rubles
In an effort to comply with existing contracts, as well as Putin’s decree, Gazprom has been working with EU companies to come up with a workaround :
- EU companies will deposit their payment in euros or US dollars at GazpromBank.
- Gazprom agrees that payment has been legally completed.
- GazpromBank converts the euros or dollars into rubles.
- GazpromBank transfers the payment in rubles to Gazprom.
This workaround was considered legal by the EC, as both Gazprom and GazpromBank are currently not subject to EU sanctions.
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