Russia suspending gas supplies to Poland, Bulgaria

Warsaw: Poland and Bulgaria say Russia is halting their gas supplies starting on Wednesday, the first such actions of the Ukraine war.

A Belarusian worker on duty at a gas compressor station 130 km southwest of the capital Minsk. Officials in Poland and Bulgaria say Russia is suspending their countries’ natural gas deliveries starting on Wednesday.Credit:AP

The governments of the two European countries said Tuesday that Russian energy giant Gazprom informed them it was halting gas supplies.

The suspensions would be the first since Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month that “unfriendly” foreign buyers would have to pay the state-owned Gazprom in roubles instead of other currencies.

Europe imports large amounts of Russian natural gas to heat homes, generate electricity and fuel industry. The imports have continued despite the war in Ukraine.

Around 60 per cent of imports are paid in euros, and the rest in dollars. Putin’s demand was apparently intended to help bolster the Russian currency amid the war in Ukraine.

European leaders said they would not comply, arguing the requirement for them to purchase roubles and then pay Gazprom violated the terms of contracts and their sanctions against Russia.

Bulgaria said it was working with state gas companies to find alternative sources. The government said no restrictions on domestic gas consumption would be imposed for now even though the Balkan country of 6.5 million meets over 90 per cent of its gas needs with Russian imports.

Poland’s state gas company, PGNiG, said it was notified by Gazprom that deliveries through the Yamal-Europe pipeline would stop on Wednesday.

Poland not only has refused to pay for natural gas in roubles, but the country has been a strong supporter of neighbouring Ukraine during the Russian invasion. It is a transit point for weapons the United States and other Western nations have provided Ukraine.

The Polish government confirmed this week that it was sending tanks to Ukraine’s army. On Tuesday, it announced a sanctions list targeting 50 Russian oligarchs and companies, including Gazprom.

The Yamal pipeline carries natural gas from Russia to Poland and Germany, through Belarus. Poland has been receiving some 9 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually.

PGNiG said that Russia’s demand to be paid in roubles represented a breach of the Yamal contract.

Flow charts published on the website of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas showed drastic drops of gas flows at entry points in Kondratki, a town in eastern Poland, and Vysokaye, which is in Belarus.

The Russian news agency Tass cited Gazprom as saying that Poland must pay for its gas supplies under a new procedure.

AP

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