Thursday, May 19, 2022

Russia’s Gazprom stops sending gas to Poland and Bulgaria

Russia’s state-owned Gazprom has fulfilled its promise and has stopped gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria for refusing to pay in rubles, the company confirmed on social media. It is the Kremlin’s toughest response to sanctions imposed by the West since the war in Ukraine began more than two months ago.

The speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, has applauded Gazprom’s decision. He assures that it has made the right decision by completely suspending gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland and stated that Moscow should do the same with other “enemy” countries.

According to Reuters, Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel, “The same should be done with respect to other countries that are not friendly to us.”

Brussels said that the EU is prepared for gas cuts from Russia. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has denounced Russia’s “unacceptable blackmail” by cutting off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.

“Gazprom’s announcement that it is unilaterally ceasing gas deliveries to its customers in Europe is another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail. It is unjustified and unacceptable,” the head of the EU executive said in a statement.

The governments of Bulgaria and Poland have confirmed the cut-off of gas supplies from Russia. Poland is one of the countries affected by the Russian threats, and also one of those demanding tougher sanctions against the Kremlin.

Half of Poland’s gas comes from Russia, but its government claims that as of today gas reserves are at 76% so Polish households are assured of gas. Poland’s gas supply contract with Russian energy giant Gazprom is for 10.2 billion cubic meters per year.

Bulgaria, for its part, assures that gas supplies in the country are “guaranteed” and that “there is no risk to the country’s energy security”.

“We have been preparing for such a scenario for a long time,” government spokeswoman Lena Borislavova has defended. Bulgarian Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov has regretted that natural gas has become “a political and economic weapon” in the service of Russia to put pressure on those who have adopted sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine.

The Bulgarian government has appealed for calm and pointed out that the country has enough supply for at least a month, thanks to alternative sources. A similar message to that of Poland, which maintains that this cut will only “accelerate” a transition that was already taken for granted.

Russia threatened both countries, Poland and Bulgaria, with cutting off their gas supplies on April 27, according to Putin, for “breach of contract”. Russia claims that these countries have to pay them for gas in rubles. A measure with which it responds to the sanctions adopted against Russia as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

Source: Reuters