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Russia Claims It Won't Cut Off Gas Supply To More EU Customers

Russia does not plan to stop natural gas supply to more customers in Europe, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

Customers that have refused to pay for gas under the new rules Russia has imposed are already cut off, and no new halts in supply are planned, Peskov told reporters at a regular briefing, as carried by Russian news agency TASS.

Russia has already stopped gas supply to Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, the Netherlands, and customers in Denmark and Germany that have refused to pay in rubles for gas. Russia wants the countries it considers "unfriendly" – the whole of the EU, its biggest gas customer, the U.S., and UK, and many other U.S. allies – to pay in rubles for gas. Some have refused, fearing that they would not have guarantees and saying the new currency demand is a breach of contracts the gas importers have with Russian gas giant Gazprom.

Speaking to reporters today, the Kremlin spokesman said that "the system is working, and it has been adjusted."

"Those who receive gas are already working under the new system as ordered by the president of Russia," Peskov was quoted as saying by TASS. 

By the middle of May, around two dozen European buyers of Russian gas had opened accounts at Russia's Gazprombank, designated by Vladimir Putin to process the ruble-for-gas payments that he demands from now on. Russia wants its gas to be paid in rubles via two accounts at Gazprombank—one in euros or U.S. dollars and the other one in rubles.

The EU has already agreed – after weeks of negotiations – to impose an embargo on seaborne imports of Russian oil by the end of the year. But sanctioning gas deliveries hasn't been proposed, yet, mostly because the biggest economies, including Germany and Italy, are dependent on Russian gas for around 40% of their consumption.

The EU is racing to buy and source LNG supply to replace as much Russian gas as possible, targeting to eliminate its dependence on Russia for gas by 2027.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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