Putin ‘would like to see us all dead’, says Kostiantyn Yelisieiev
Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy conglomerate, has reportedly not reserved gas transit capacity for exports from the Yamal-Europe pipeline, auction results revealed on Tuesday. The main gas pipeline is a 4,107 km system supposed to deliver Russian natural gas to Poland and Germany via Belarus. Gas is currently flowing through the system, with flows apparently increasing eastward into Poland from Germany under existing contracts on Tuesday morning.
But next month could be a different story, which could be a huge worry for Germany as it relies heavily on Russia for a third of its gas needs.
The bloc as a whole gets 40% of its gas from Putin and has been considering sanctioning Russia’s oil and gas sectors for weeks.
And last month, Russia indeed warned that if “hostile countries” did not buy its gas in Russian rubles, they would see their supplies cut off.
The sanctions have crippled the Russian economy, with oligarchs, central banks and those with ties to the Kremlin all targeted.
Putin reacted angrily, demanding that Western buyers of Russian gas “must open ruble accounts in Russian banks”.
Putin’s main pipeline to Europe could dry up in days
Russia supplies 40% of European gas
He continued: “It is from these accounts that gas will be paid from April 1.
“If these payments are not made, we will consider this as a default by the customer of his obligations.”
While Western countries refused the request, the Russian president then agreed to continue supplying customers according to existing contracts even if they did not pay in rubles.
He said: “Russia will, of course, continue to supply natural gas in accordance with the volumes and prices … set in the contracts concluded previously.
“The changes will only affect the payment currency, which will be changed to Russian rubles.
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Habeck warned that Germany was not ready to ban Russian gas overnight
“A comprehensible and transparent procedure for making payments should be created for (all foreign buyers), including the acquisition of Russian rubles in our domestic money market.”
But with no gasoline reserved for next month, it now looks like Putin could stick to his original warning.
Russia has been known to cut off gas from Europe in the past, and through the Yamal-Europe pipeline as well.
For several months, gas flows through the system reversed, moving eastward, which played a role in soaring gas prices in Europe.
The EU is now considering a gas ban, which Germany appears to oppose.
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In Germany, employers and unions have united to oppose an immediate EU ban on natural gas imports from Russia.
The German government has also warned the EU that banning the power source overnight could cause economic disaster.
German Vice President and Economy Minister Robert Habeck said: “We are working every day to create the preconditions and pave the way for an embargo.
“It is also, in the eyes of the federal government, as well as in my opinion, the way forward and the way that hurts Putin on a daily basis.”
Poland, on the other hand, declared itself ready for the ban.
Von der Leyen suggested oil sanctions could be next
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last month: “In the last five years we have built the Baltic gas pipeline to Norway and in six months, for the first time in decades, we will be independent of Russian gas. “.
While the EU has yet to put an embargo on Russian gas, it has pledged to cut oil and gas imports by two-thirds by the end of the year.
And the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has indicated that the next sanctions against Russia will target banks, as well as Russian oil.
A Russian oil ban could cost Putin billions, given the bloc handed Putin a staggering €48.5bn (£38bn) for crude oil in 2021 and €22.5bn euros (£19bn) of non-crude petroleum oils.