Putin ‘would like to see us all dead’ says Kostiantyn Yelisieiev
Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy conglomerate, has reportedly not booked any gas transit capacity for exports for the Yamal-Europe pipeline, auction results showed on Tuesday. The major pipeline is a 4,107km system which is supposed to carry Russia’s natural gas to Poland and Germany via Belarus. Gas currently is flowing through the system, with flows reportedly having increased eastbound into Poland from Germany in line with existing contracts on Tuesday morning.
But next month could be a different story, which could be a huge worry for Germany as it hugely relies on Russia for a third of its gas needs.
The bloc as a whole gets 40 percent of its gas from Putin and has been eyeing up sanctioning Russia’s oil and gas sectors for weeks.
And last month, Russia did in fact warn that if “unfriendly countries” did not buy his gas in Russian rubles, they would see supplies cut.
Sanctions have been crippling the Russian economy, with oligarchs, central banks and those with links to the Kremlin all being targeted.
Putin reacted in a rage, demanding that Western buyers of Russian gas “need to open rouble accounts in Russian banks.”
Putin’s main pipeline to Europe could go dry in just days
Russia supplies 40 percent of Europe’s gas
He went on: “It is from those accounts that gas will be paid for, starting 1 April.
“If such payments aren’t made, we will consider this a failure by the client to comply with its obligations.”
While Western countries refused the demand, the Russian President later agreed to keep supplying customers in line with existing contracts even if they did not pay in rubles.
He said: “Russia will continue, of course, to supply natural gas in accordance with volumes and prices … fixed in previously concluded contracts.
“The changes will only affect the currency of payment, which will be changed to Russian rubles.
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Habeck has warned Germany is not ready ban Russian gas overnight
“An understandable and transparent procedure of making payments should be created for (all foreign buyers), including acquiring Russian rubles on our domestic currency market.”
But with no gas booked for next month, it now appears Putin could be sticking with his original warning.
Russia has been known to cut off Europe’s gas in the past, and through the Yamal-Europe pipeline too.
For several months, gas flows through the system were in reverse, travelling to the East, which played a role in sending Europe’s gas prices soaring.
The EU is now eyeing up a gas ban, which Germany has appeared to argue against.
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The EU still hands Putin billions for fossil fuel imports
In Germany, employers and trade unions united to oppose an immediate EU ban on Russia’s natural gas imports.
The German Government has also warned the EU that banning the energy source overnight could cause economic catastrophe.
Germany’s Vice President and Economics Minister, Robert Habeck, said: “We are working every single day to create the preconditions and to pave the way towards an embargo.
“This is also, in the view of the federal government, as well as in my own opinion, the way forward and one which harms Putin on a daily basis.”
Poland, on the other hand, has said it is ready for the ban.
Von der leyen has suggested oil sanctions could be next
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last month: “Over the past 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 is still yet to embargo Russian gas, it has pledged to slash oil and gas imports by two thirds by the end of the year.
And European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has indicated that forthcoming sanctions on Russia will target banks, as well as Russian oil.
A ban on Russian oil could cost Putin billions, given that the bloc handed Putin a staggering €48.5billion (£38billion) for crude oil in 2021, and €22.5billion (£19billion) of petroleum oils other than crude.