Russia Shuts Off Gas To European Nations Refusing To Pay In Rubles
Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a press conference with his Belarus counterpart, following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 18, 2022.
SERGEI GUNEYEV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

A majority state-owned Russian oil and gas company has cut off natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria after the two European nations refused to pay in rubles.

Russian gas corporation Gazprom announced on Wednesday that it had shut off access due to unpaid April bills after the nations refused to pay in Russian currency.

“The announcement by Gazprom that it is unilaterally stopping delivery of gas to customers in Europe is yet another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.

“This is unjustified and unacceptable. And it shows once again the unreliability of Russia as a gas supplier,” she added.

Fatih Birol, the executive director of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, said the cutoff was a “weaponization of energy supplies,” according to the Associated Press.

The AP also noted that natural gas prices in Europe shot up 25% in response to the report before easing later in the day.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov noted the concern in a Twitter post, mentioning a call with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis regarding “energy security and diversification.”

Poland Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he believed the move was in revenge for his nation’s support of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

In a post to Twitter, the prime minister noted he had spoken with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz “about an urgent delivery of arms to [Ukraine] and reliance on  [Russian] gas and oil. Short term it will be difficult to wean Europe off them, but long term it will serve peace. Europe cannot afford to live in constant danger from [Russian] aggression.”

The concern also comes as Russia continues to blame other nations over problems related to its invasion of Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused NATO on Monday of escalating the war in Ukraine and warned of a “considerable” threat of a nuclear world war.

Lavrov said the West has escalated tensions by providing weapons to Ukraine as the Russian army continues its assault on the European country, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

“The risk is serious, real. It should not be underestimated,” Lavrov told Russian state-run TV. “Under no circumstances should a third world war be allowed to happen.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called out the Russian blame strategy, claiming the move indicates the nation is suffering defeat.

“Russia loses last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine. Thus the talk of a ‘real’ danger of WWIII. This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine. Therefore, the world must double down on supporting Ukraine so that we prevail and safeguard European and global security,” he tweeted.

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