Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved Austrian gas payments in euro, according to APA reporting.
Russia has previously announced to European buyers that payments for natural gas would be switched to roubles, stressing that gas supplies could be cut for noncompliance, Reuters reports Thursday.
Moscow made the announcement in response to Western sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine, which Russia describes as a special military operation aimed at “denazifying” Ukraine.
Nehammer described his talk with Putin earlier this week as “very direct, open and tough,” noting that they discussed the conflict in Ukraine near Moscow on Monday. He did not say publicly whether the two discussed Russia’s natural gas supply to Austria.
Austria covers roughly 80% of its natural gas needs with Russian imports and is a vocal opponent of the plan to impose an EU-wide embargo in the short term, stressing that it cannot witch suddenly to different suppliers.
According to APA, Nehammer stated at a joint interview with DPA on Wednesday that Putin assured him “that the gas supply is secured, that Russia will deliver the contractually agreed quantities and that payments can continue to be mad in euro.”
Commenting on Russia’s announced switch, the European Commission previously advised EU buyers with contracts that require payments in euro to stick to the contracts, with Nehammer announcing Austria would follow the EC’s advice.
Russia offers workaround
Moscow announced about two weeks ago that foreign buyers have to open rouble accounts in Gazprombank, which is not under Western sanctions to the same extent as some other Russian banks, or be cut off from supplies.
The plan allows buyers from the EU to make payments in euro which the Gazprombank then converts to roubles, with Austria pointing out that the scheme makes it possible for EU buyers to continue paying for Russian gas in euro.
Commenting on the calls to impose an EU-wide embargo on Russian natural gas, Nehammer pointed out in the Wednesday interview that the move “would mean that both [Austrian] industry and households would suffer serious harm from the non-delivery of that gas.”