Some of the largest energy companies in the European Union (EU) are preparing a new payment system for Russian gas to meet Kremlin requirements and be able to pay in rubles, reports the Financial Times.
Critics say this is undermining the impact of EU sanctions, threatening the unity of the bloc and handing over billions in cash to Russia.
According to the newspaper, gas distributors in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia plan to open ruble accounts at Gazprombank in Switzerland to meet Russia’s demand. Among them are the two largest Russian gas importers: Uniper in Düsseldorf and OMV in Vienna.
Italy’s second largest customer, Italy’s Eni, is still evaluating its options, as it has until the end of May to pay its fees.
Preparations will follow the suspension of Gazprom’s gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria due to non-payment of the ruble.
The EU has tried to oppose the demands of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “In this matter, it is important to maintain the unity of the EU and, as President von der Leyen said, we must not give in to such blackmail,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the European Commission.