European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has claimed that Russia’s attempted blackmail through its suspension of gas supplies to certain European nations will not succeed, and assured European consumers that the bloc had prepared itself for such a measure.
The head of the lower house of the Russian parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, praised the decision by Gazprom on Wednesday to cease gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria due to the countries’ refusal to pay for the provisions in rubles.
However, the European Commission chief hit back, insisting the move had come “as no surprise” to the bloc and insisted the two affected countries were now receiving gas supplies from their European neighbors.
Von der Leyen called the Russian move an attempt to use gas to “blackmail” European countries, and revealed the EU executive had already been in touch with all member states to address the provision of sufficient supplies for all EU members.
“Our response will be immediate, united, and coordinated. We will ensure that Gazprom’s decision has the least possible impact on EU consumers,” von der Leyen tweeted.
According to her, the member states have emergency plans for this very situation, which they prepared in connection with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s list of so-called “non-friendly countries,” which included only the U.S. and Czechia until the beginning of March, now contains all EU countries and two dozen other states that have objected to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Gazprom halted gas supplies completely to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday morning. According to the TASS agency, the reason is the refusal of the local gas companies to pay for supplies in rubles, however both Poland and Bulgaria have called the Russian company’s actions a breach of contract.
“It is the right decision. The representatives of the State Duma support it,” Russia’s chief of the lower parliamentary house, Vyacheslav Volodin, claimed. “Bulgaria and Poland could take advantage of our president’s offer and pay for gas in rubles. It is necessary to act also concerning other enemy countries,” he added..
The Russian government updated the list of countries considered unfriendly to Russia on March 7 in connection with sanctions imposed on Russia by the West due to the military invasion of Ukraine. Moscow also announced that Russia’s financial obligations would be paid only in rubles.