On Monday, the G7 responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan to only accept rubles for gas sales to Europe. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said G7 energy ministers agreed that paying in rubles is “not acceptable.”
“All G7 ministers agreed that this is a unilateral and clear breach of the existing agreements,” Habeck said. “Payment in roubles is not acceptable and … we call on the companies concerned not to comply with Putin’s demand.”
Putin made the announcement last week in response to the US-led Western sanctions campaign against Russia. Some of the sanctions prohibit Russia’s central bank from trading in dollars and euros.
While President Biden has signed an executive order banning Russian energy imports into the US, Washington’s European allies are still incredibly reliant on Russian gas. The EU imports about 40% of its natural gas from Russia and is trying to reduce its reliance on Russian energy, but it will take time.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov signaled on Monday that Russia might cut off Europe’s gas supply if it fails to pay in rubles. “We clearly aren’t going to supply gas for free,” he said when asked about the possibility. “In our situation, it’s hardly possible and feasible to engage in charity for Europe.”
Germany and the G7 say that Russia would be violating contracts if it doesn’t accept payment in other currencies. But Moscow has little reason to stick to contracts with countries that are currently involved in a sanctions campaign aimed at wrecking the Russian economy.