European energy ministers, who were urgently summoned to Brussels on Monday, sought a response to Gazprom’s decision to cut gas to Poland and Bulgaria and spoke of a phased moratorium on their oil purchases as part of the sixth package of sanctions against Moscow.
“We have refused to pay for Russian gas in rubles, and Russia has cut off the supply to us, but we are safe,” said Polish Minister Anna Moskwa upon her arrival to attend the meeting.
‘We call for an immediate ban on oil and gas’
We are calling for an immediate ban on oil and gas. It’s time for oil, then gas. She said Europe should get rid of dependence on Russian fossil fuels.
A- explained that Polish gas reserves “will be at 100% of their capacity for this winter,” and American liquefied natural gas (LNG) has begun “to arrive via Lithuania and we will be supplied with gas from Norway via Denmark.”
Russia responded to European sanctions against its central bank by imposing an obligation to open a ruble account for gas deals.
“No country intends to open a ruble account”
However, contracts concluded by European companies are denominated in euros or dollars, and the European Commission considers that the transfer mechanism imposed by Moscow makes it possible to circumvent European sanctions.
Poland and Bulgaria paid their purchases in the currency stipulated in their contracts with Gazprom and refused to open a second account in rubles. In response, the Russian gas company stopped deliveries, considering that payment had not been made.
Energy ministers should consider whether opening a second account to allow conversion into rubles is a problem of sanctions, as Gazprom delivers gas once payment is received in euros or dollars, as we explained from a European source.
“No company, no country intends to open a ruble account,” said Energy Commissioner Kadri Simpson upon her arrival to attend the meeting. A European source confirmed that the issue would be discussed during the meeting.
Reducing dependence on Russian fossil fuels
Ministers should also agree to a phased moratorium on purchases of Russian oil and petroleum products in order to dry up European funding for the Kremlin-led war in Ukraine. French Minister Barbara Pompele, chair of the meeting, said that no decision was expected at the end of the meeting. A new package of sanctions is in the works, but that will not be the subject of this Energy Council. She said he would come in the coming days.
“We are working on a new sanctions package,” Commissioner Simpson confirmed. The college meeting will be held on Tuesday in Strasbourg [en marge de la session du Parlement]and President Ursula von der Leyen will explain what has been decided.” The proposal has been finalized and will be adopted by the Commission on Tuesday, according to an EU source.
And Spanish Minister Teresa Ribera reminded that “the issue of sanctions is not the prerogative of energy ministers, but of foreign affairs.”
To reduce Europeans’ dependence on fossil fuels “as quickly as possible”, the Spanish minister insisted on the need to provide the European Union with interconnectors for the transmission of electricity and gas.
“We have significantly reduced our dependence on Russian oil and created the necessary conditions to be able to support the embargo as well,” stressed his German counterpart Robert Habeck.
In 2021, Russia supplied 30% of crude oil and 15% of petroleum products purchased by the European Union.
We are not calling for an immediate ban on all imports of fossil fuels, because [nous savons que] “We can’t go on for one month,” Foreign Minister Annalena Barbuk said Monday in Berlin.
The main importers of fossil fuels from Russia (gas, crude oil, petroleum products, coal) are Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and France.