The Kremlin said Wednesday the halt of natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria over the refusal to pay in rubles was a result of unfriendly actions towards Russia.
“The need for a new payment method was a result of unprecedented unfriendly steps in the economic sphere and the financial sector, which were taken against us by unfriendly countries,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“This need was dictated by the fact that, as you know, they blocked from us — or, to put it plainly, stole — a fairly significant amount of our reserves,” Peskov said, adding that this led to a “transition to a new payment system”.
“So there is no question of blackmail here,” Peskov said in response to comments by European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, who said this was “another attempt by Russia to blackmail us with gas”.
Russia’s energy giant Gazprom on Wednesday said it was completely halting gas supplies to Poland and highly dependent Bulgaria “due to their failure to pay in rubles”.
President Vladimir Putin last month said Russia will only accept payment for deliveries in its national currency, with buyers required to set up ruble accounts or have their taps turned off.
In response to Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, Moscow was hit with unprecedented economic sanctions, which also froze $300 billion of Russia’s foreign currency reserves held abroad.
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