Russia cuts gas to Poland and Bulgaria after refusing to pay in rubles | International
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A new chapter in the gas war begins in Europe. With the community block considering reducing imports from Russia to reduce its financing in full offensive in Ukraine, Moscow has decided to cut off the supply of its gas pipelines to Poland and Bulgaria due to the refusal of these countries to change the conditions of their contracts and abide by the conversion obligation of its payments in rubles, as required by the Kremlin to protect the value of its currency from sanctions.
The Polish state gas company PGNiG has reported that the Russian monopoly Gazprom Export will completely stop the flow of gas from Wednesday, April 27. For its part, the Russian public company, the only one with permission to sell abroad, replied that Warsaw had to pay for its new deliveries from this Tuesday in accordance with the new Russian legislation. Shortly after this announcement, the Russian energy company has informed Bulgaria that the supply will also be interrupted with this country from this Wednesday, as confirmed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Energy to the Reuters agency.
The Polish company considers that this decree is not binding and there is no reason to stop deliveries through the Yamal pipeline. In addition, he recalled that he has always fulfilled his payment obligations and has no debts with Gazprom. “This is a breach of contract and the company will take appropriate action,” he warned.
Hours later, Gazprom announced to the Bulgarian company Bulgargaz that it will also cut gas supplies to Bulgaria from April 27. As in the case of Warsaw, the cut occurs after the refusal of both companies to pay for Russian gas in rubles, as requested by Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin decreed on March 31 that from April all foreign importers had to pay exclusively in rubles through a new mechanism.
For this purpose, a special permit was granted to the financial arm of the gas company, Gazprombank, through which it would open special accounts for its clients where euros and dollars would enter, and these would be converted into rubles through their sale and purchase on the Moscow Stock Exchange. . The goal is to support the value of the ruble against foreign sanctions. Brussels has sent this week a clarification to the member countries in which it considered, a priori, that payment in dollars or euros through the Gazprombank mechanism is a legal way to avoid sanctions.
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Poland is one of the European Union countries that most strongly advocates putting an end to dependence on Russia, a country from which until now it had acquired slightly less than half of the gas imported from abroad and which it hoped to reduce to zero as of October. Bulgaria also receives most of its gas supplies from Russia, although the dependency in the Bulgarian case is greater: up to 90% of the hydrocarbon they consume comes from Russia. As in the Polish case, Bulgargaz’s contract with Gazprom was ending this year and Sofia had already announced her intention not to renew it. The Minister of Energy, Alexander Nikolov, has announced that Bulgaria is taking measures to guarantee supply and that for the moment it will not be necessary to restrict gas consumption.
For their part, other European countries, such as Germany and Austria, warn that they are not prepared to end this dependency. The European Commission has called for a two-thirds cut in imports of Russian oil and gas this year.
Guterres accuses Putin of invading Ukraine
Putin has threatened to cut off gas to countries that do not comply with his decree, a use of this basic resource that the European Union has branded on numerous occasions as “a weapon” of the Kremlin against its neighbors, from Germany to Ukraine, including Moldova. .
Politics and national interests is precisely what the Russian president and the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, spoke about face to face on Tuesday during his visit to Moscow. “I understand that the Russian Federation has a number of claims related to what is happening in Ukraine, as well as to European and world security, but they must be resolved with the various instruments proposed by the UN Charter,” he told the eyes of the head of the United Nations after stressing that “the violation of the territorial integrity of any country is completely incompatible with the UN Charter” and that what happened after February 24 “is an invasion of the territory of Ukraine”.
Putin responded to Guterres’ accusation that his recognition of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, supported financially and militarily by the Kremlin since 2014, have a precedent in the fragmentation of the former Yugoslavia. “Many states of the world, including our opponents in the West, did it with Kosovo, and we did the same with Donbas,” added the Russian president, who insisted that the Russian-speaking population was in danger and sought protection in the article. 51 of the UN Charter, “the immanent right of legitimate defense”, to launch its military campaign on three fronts on Ukraine, including Russian-speaking cities such as Odessa, Mariupol or Kharkov.
The Russian president began his meeting with Guterres with a review of the Kremlin’s list of grievances. Among them, the Maidan protests of 2014, which he considers a coup; and that the subsequent Ukrainian government, recognized by Moscow, failed to comply with the 2015 Minsk agreements. Practically no point of those agreements was fulfilled, neither the granting of a special status to Donbas by kyiv nor the withdrawal of all armed formations from area.
During their conversation, Putin also advocated continuing negotiations with the Ukrainian government, whose progress made at the Istanbul summit at the end of March he considered “positive”. However, he accused the government of Volodímir Zelensky of having changed its position regarding what was agreed on Crimea and Donbas and reiterated that its position that the Black Sea peninsula be considered Russian territory and that the Donbas region be proclaimed independent is non-negotiable. In this regard, Putin has proposed addressing these two issues between the two heads of state, although all of this is subject to an agreement that guarantees the security of all the territories.
The Russian president and the UN secretary general also discussed the evacuation of Ukrainian cities. Guterres stressed that the safety of civilians must be guaranteed during their withdrawal, “some of whom want to go to Russian territory and another to territory controlled by Ukraine.”
Guterres’ visit to Moscow is the second leg of an official trip that began on Monday in Ankara and will end on Wednesday in kyiv. Before being received by Putin, Guterres had lunch with the Russian foreign minister, who warned him that the future of his organization is at stake. “Either we all resign ourselves to someone (the United States) and its group of satellites deciding how humanity will live, or humanity will live according to the UN Charter,” Lavrov stressed after accusing the West of creating structures parallel to the United Nations and ” establish a unipolar world.
The minister stated that UN resolutions should be “sacred”. “I do not remember that his general secretariat reacted to the direct sabotage of the Minsk agreements by kyiv”, Lavrov gave as an example, while defending the right of veto, the same one that Moscow used at the beginning of the current conflict to block the resolution. of the Security Council condemning its own offensive. Precisely, the General Assembly addressed this Tuesday Liechtenstein’s proposal that this resource must be justified by the power that resorts to it.
Despite his defense of multipolarity, the Russian minister also dismissed Guterres’ proposal to create an independent investigation into the crimes committed in Ukraine because “Moscow does not trust these investigations.” In addition to this initiative, the UN Secretary General offered the creation of a contact group made up of Russia, Ukraine and his own body to address the humanitarian problems caused by the conflict. In exchange, Lavrov offered Russia’s collaboration with the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross “to alleviate the suffering and difficult situation of the civilian population.”
The situation of Russia within the United Nations after its offensive in Ukraine has been a key issue of the visit. The UN General Assembly decided on April 7 to suspend the Slavic country in the Human Rights Council. The resolution was presented by the United States after learning of the massacre in the Ukrainian city of Bucha and received 93 votes in favor, 24 against and 58 abstentions.
Regarding the debate on the Security Council, the permanent representative of Russia to the UN, Guenadi Gatilov, affirmed on Tuesday that the attempts to expel her “will continue for simple propaganda, but it is impossible because it is not foreseen in any way in the Charter of the United Nations and for this the entire organization would have to be destroyed”, according to the statements collected by the Russian agency Tass.
The immense damage caused by the conflict will not be known until long after its end. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has counted 2,665 dead civilians and 3,053 wounded until the early hours of February 24, although these figures pale in comparison to the real ones: the agency itself warns that they will be “considerably higher” as they have not had access to the places of greatest hostilities, such as Mariupol, Izium and Popasna. In Donetsk and Lugansk, Russian-speaking regions whose defense Putin justified to order the entry of his troops into Ukraine on the fateful February 24, more than a thousand civilians have died: at least 1,136 in the part controlled by the Government and 81 in the separatist zone, according to the UN.
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