European energy ministers, urgently summoned to Brussels on Monday, sought an answer to Gazprom’s decision to stop the gas to Poland and Bulgaria and spoke of a phasing out of their oil purchases as part of a sixth sanctions package against Moscow.
“We refused to pay for Russian gas in rubles and the Russia cut off the delivery to us, but we are safe,” Polish minister Anna Moskwa assured on her arrival for the meeting.
“We call for an immediate embargo on oil and gas”
The Polish gas reserves “will be at 100% capacity this winter”, American LNG (liquefied natural gas) “comes in through Lithuania and we get gas from Norway through the Denmark she explained.
Russia has responded to European sanctions against its central bank by imposing an obligation to open a ruble account for gas transactions.
“No country plans to open a ruble account”
However, the contracts concluded by European companies are denominated in euros or dollars and the European Commission believes that the conversion mechanism imposed by Moscow makes it possible to circumvent European sanctions.
The Poland and Bulgaria paid for their purchases in the currency provided for in their contracts with Gazprom and refused to open a second account in rubles. In retaliation, the Russian gas company suspended its deliveries for not making the payment.
Energy ministers should consider whether opening a second account to allow conversion into rubles poses a sanctions problem, as Gazprom will supply the gas once payment is received in euros or dollars, we explained to a European source.
“No company and no country plans to open a ruble account,” energy commissioner Kadri Simson assured when she arrived for the meeting. But the matter will be discussed at the meeting, a European source assured.
Reducing dependence on Russian fossil fuels
Ministers must also agree on a phasing out of purchases of Russian oil and petroleum products in order to increase European funding for the Kremlin-led war. Ukraine† But no decision is expected at the end of their meeting, the French minister said Barbara Pompili, chairman of the meeting. “A new package of sanctions is being prepared, but that will not be discussed in this Energy Council. He will come in the next few days,” she explained.
“We are working on a new fine package Commissioner Samson confirmed. “There will be a college meeting in Strasbourg on Tuesday” [en marge de la session du Parlement], and President Ursula von der Leyen will make clear what has been decided,” she said. The proposal has been finalized and will be adopted by the Commission on Tuesday, an EU source said.
“The issue of sanctions is not the competence of the energy ministers, but of foreign affairs,” Spanish minister Teresa Ribera recalled.
In order to reduce Europeans’ dependence on fossil fuels “as soon as possible”, the Spanish minister insisted on the need to provide the EU with interconnections for the transport of electricity and gas.
“Support an embargo”
“We have significantly reduced our dependence on Russian oil and we have created the necessary conditions to be able to support an embargo as well,” assured his German counterpart Robert Habeck.
In 2021, Russia supplied 30% of crude oil and 15% of EU-purchased petroleum products.
“We’re not asking for a embargo immediately on all fossil fuel imports, because [nous savons que] we didn’t last a month,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in Berlin on Monday.
The main importers of fossil fuels from Russia (gas, crude oil, petroleum products and coal) are Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and France.