UK refuses to pay for Russian natural gas in rubles

The UK has refused to pay for Russian goods, such as natural gas, in Russian rubles, a representative of Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, Reuters reports.

The British government remains in touch with UK-based companies that could be affected by Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to switch into Russian rubles in payments for natural gas supplies to Europe.

French President Emmanuel Macron also said that it would be impossible to pay for Russian gas contracts in rubles. He noted that the requirement to pay for Russian gas in rubles did not comply with the terms of the earlier concluded contracts.

Bulgaria also refused to pay for Russian natural gas supplies in rubles, Lena Borislavova, a representative of the Bulgarian government said, reports.

“The position of the government, which is also coordinated at the European level, is that it is impossible to allow violations of existing contracts for gas supplies. They clearly provide that payments shall be made either in euros or in dollars,” said Borislavova, answering a question about the requirements from the Russian side.

On March 28, Putin instructed the Russian government, the Central Bank and Gazprom to implement a set of measures to change the currency of payment for natural gas supplies to unfriendly countries by March 31. The head of state clarified that Russia would supply gas in accordance with volumes and pricing principles concluded in the contracts. It is only the currency of payment that would change, he added.

Austria and Germany announce emergency plans

Austria's Finance Minister Magnus Brunner said that the country had an action plan to follow should Russia cut its natural gas supplies. This is an emergency, multi-level plan, the official said. 

According to him, the Austrian parliament has coordinated measures for the strategic replenishment of gas reserves.

Earlier, representatives for Austrian gas company OMV said that they did not receive a request from Gazprom regarding the need to switch into Russian rubles in payments for natural gas.

Prior to this, Robert Habeck, Germany's Vice-Chancellor, Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, stated that Germany would not pay for natural gas supplies in Russian rubles. Habeck also announced an emergency plan that Germany would resort to should Russia cut off its energy supplies to Europe.

Germany's gas storage facilities are currently 25% full. According to Habeck, this ensures the security of Germany's energy supplies.

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