German Chancellor Olaf Scholz rejected on Thursday a Russian demand to ask payment in rubles for its gas deliveries to Europe, a move widely seen as an attempt to prop up the country’s currency faltering under the weight of the sanctions.
“We have looked at the gas purchase contracts and it is fixed that we have to pay for it in euros or dollars and that is what matters,” Olaf Scholz said.
At a press conference at the G7 summit in Brussels on Thursday afternoon, Scholz said: “We will keep the sanctions alive for as long as necessary and we will continue to assess their effects.”
Besides Germany, other nations, such as Italy have also signaled they will refuse to pay in rubles.
“It’s a contract violation, and contracts will be considered violated if Russia implements this condition,” said Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said.
Germany looks to autocratic nations of Qatar and UAE to replace Russian gas
Germany hopes to also become independent of Russian coal by this autumn, but the government turns to autocratic regimes in the Middle East to fulfill its energy needs
It is unclear how Putin will respond to the refusal from both Germany and other countries. Russia is unlikely in a mood to honor contracts given that its foreign currency reserves have been seized across Europe along with other assets in what the country views as a direct attack.
Scholz’s government has turned to the United States and Canada, along with autocratic nations such as Qatar and the UAE, to replace Russian gas and oil, but it is unclear how quickly this can be accomplished
“These are difficult times, especially for Ukrainian citizens who are experiencing how their lives have been ruined in recent weeks. We show solidarity with the Ukrainian people and those who fight bravely against the aggressor deserve respect,” Scholz said.
Scholz said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had informed them of the current state of the war. He then reiterated the G7’s demand that Russian troops leave Ukraine:
“Russia has fundamentally violated the post-world war international system with the outbreak of war against Ukraine. We call on the Russian president to agree on a ceasefire without delay and to order humanitarian corridors to evacuate the civilian population.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday instructed his government, and in particular the state-owned Gazprom group, which oversees natural gas contracts and deliveries, to stop accepting payments in dollars or euros in the future from “unfriendly” countries such as Germany and Great Britain.
This effectively means these governments would have to purchase rubles with their own currency. Many European countries are wary of sanctioning Russian oil and gas, fearing a catastrophic rise in inflation and an industrial slowdown.
Russia provides approximately 45 percent of the EU’s natural gas demands, and for countries like Germany, Hungary and Bulgaria, this gas is vital to keeping the lights on.