Western nations, including the United States, have imposed sanctions on Russia since the February 24 invasion of Ukraine. The threat to cut off gas supplies to Europe in response to the sanctions is seen as one of Russia’s toughest moves. Russia has also banned 27 former and current UK lawmakers. Among the lawmakers are former and current ministers of the country.
Russia’s state-owned energy agency Gazprom said in a statement today that it was cutting off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. The two countries have refused to pay in Russian rubles. Citing a directive issued by President Vladimir Putin last month, Gazprom said it had not received any money for the ruble gas since the beginning of the month.
Polish gas company PGNIG said it had been told that gas would no longer be supplied from 8am local time yesterday. Bulgaria’s energy ministry has also said it will cut off gas supplies to the country from tomorrow.
Russia recently announced that non-aligned countries must pay in rubles to buy fuel. Otherwise they will not be supplied gas. Poland and Bulgaria refused to comply.
Following Gazprom’s statement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned other EU countries, buyers of Russian natural gas. He said refusing to pay the price of gas in rubles would cut off gas supplies to all other European countries. Peskov said the cut-off was a warning to Poland and Bulgaria.
Peskov added that Russia was and still is a reliable supplier of energy resources to its buyers. Russia has always been committed to the treaty. If at the time of payment some buyer refuses to pay under the new rules, the President’s instructions must be applied. However, Peskov did not say exactly how many countries have agreed to pay in rubles.
Asked if Russia was ready to deal with the economic losses if European countries refused to pay the price of gas in rubles, Peskov said everything had been calculated. All risks have been considered and necessary action has been taken.
According to the BBC, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said after Gazprom’s announcement that blocking gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria was an “aggressive move” and that the EU considered it a form of blackmail. However, he claimed that Gazprom’s decision would have little effect on European buyers.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a speech on Wednesday that the sanctions imposed by the West on Russia’s economy had not worked. At the same time, he warned that any intervention in Ukraine would be met with a strong and swift response.
More towns and villages were occupied by Russian troops
Al-Jazeera reports that Russia has announced that it will occupy two towns and some villages in the eastern part of Ukraine. Kiev has also confirmed the veracity of this information. The Ukrainian military says Russian troops have taken control of two towns in Donbass.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a Facebook post that Russian troops had captured the town of Zarichan as part of their offensive north of Donetsk.
Russian troops have entered the town of Navotoshkivsky. Above the city is the road connecting the separatist-controlled parts of the Luhansk region of Ukraine with the Kiev-controlled city of Lisichansk. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry says Russian forces have also seized two villages in the northeastern Kharkiv region.