Russia’s energy giant Gazprom completely severed gas supplies to both Bulgaria and Poland on Wednesday after its April payments were received in roubles.
The announcement comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that countries deemed “unfriendly” to Russia must start paying for gas supplies from the country in roubles—something both Poland and Bulgaria have refused to do.
“If unfriendly countries do not pay in roubles from April 1, we will consider this a default on gas contracts, in which case existing contracts will be stopped,” Putin had stated.
“Unfriendly countries” are those which have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly the U.S., U.K., and members of the European Union.
Other European countries have also refused to pay in roubles. However, as of right now, Poland and Bulgaria are the only two to which Russia has announced it is cutting off supplies.
In its statement, Gazprom also warned Poland and Bulgaria against “unauthorized withdrawals” of gas—the destination of which would be a third party nation—running through either country.
Russia’s top lawmaker says gas giant Gazprom has made the right decision in fully suspending supplies to Bulgaria and Poland, adding that Moscow should do the same with other “unfriendly” countries.
“The same should be done with regard to other countries that are unfriendly to us,” Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, wrote on his Telegram channel.
Poland: We will manage without Russia’s gas
Poland’s energy provider PGNiG imported more than half of its gas through Gazprom in the first three months of this year, but Warsaw says it “will manage” without Russian gas and can source it elsewhere.
The Polish energy provider said its underground gas storage was almost 80% full and, with summer approaching, demand was lower.
“Cutting gas supplies is a breach of contract and PGNiG reserves the right to seek compensation and will use all available contractual and legal means to do so,” the company said.
Greece in a race to reduce dependency on Russia’s gas
Greece is working on reducing its dependency on Russian energy imports. In early March, Mitsotakis stated to Parliament: ” We cannot rule out attempts by Russia to blackmail. We all realize this… will disrupt global supplies and probably trigger a further rise in (energy) prices.”
As Greece imported 33 percent of its gas supplies from Russia in January, Athens called on the E.U. to support member-states and businesses against a further rise in energy costs.
Mitsotakis assured Parliament, saying that his government is prepared for a “worst-case scenario where gas supplies from Russia are halted,” as its liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facility at Revythousa near Athens has been recently replenished.
“We are strengthening the diversification of our resources. In January, Greece covered 47% of domestic demand with LNG from Revythousa and 20% through the TAP pipeline,” Mitsotakis revealed.