Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Russian energy company Gazprom has stopped natural gas deliveries to Bulgaria and Poland on Wednesday for not paying for deliveries in roubles.
Gazprom warned that it would stop deliveries to Germany, Hungary and Serbia via Bulgaria and Poland if gas was taken illegally, according to Reuters reporting on Wednesday.
“Gazprom has completely suspended gas supplies to [Bulgarian] Bulgargaz and [Polish] PGNiG due to absence of payments in roubles,” the company noted in a statement.
The two EU member states and NATO members are the first to have their supplies cut by Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine. They pointed out that Gazprom’s decision presents violation of contract.
Russian President Vladimir Putin previously called on EU member states to pay for gas deliveries in roubles after Western countries imposed sanctions against Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine.
He stressed that unfriendly countries have to make payments in euro or US dollar to Gazprombank, which is to convert their payments into roubles.
Gazprom pointed out that payments must be made in roubles and added that it informed buyers about the change in timely manner.
Poland rejected the new payment scheme and announced that it would not extend its agreement with Gazprom after it expires this year.
Bulgaria, Poland are transit countries
Gazprom exports gas to Germany via Poland, and to Hungary and Serbia via Bulgaria.
Bulgarian Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov noted that Bulgaria has paid for April gas deliveries and stressed that Gazprom’s decision to stop supplies is illegal.
“Because all trade and legal obligations are being observed, it is clear that at the moment the natural gas is being used more as a political and economic weapon in the current war,” Nikolov pointed out.
PGNiG confirmed that Gazprom cut supplies, describing the move as violation of contract and stressing that it “reserves the right to seek compensation and will use all available contractual and legal means to do so.”
The company noted that Russian gas imports account for roughly 50% of Poland’s consumption, with Polish authorities stressing that the country’s gas storage is 76% full.
Bulgartransgaz natural gas network operator noted on Wednesday that Russian gas is still flowing to Bulgaria.