Putin Won’t Immediately Demand Switch to Roubles for Gas Payments 

In a call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly pulled back on his demands that gas bills be paid for in Russian roubles, saying that Russia will not immediately demand the switch to roubles and promising a more gradual shift. 

Germany had triggered an “early warning” response to the risk of Russian gas supplies being disrupted or even potentially ceased. 

There has been massive back-and-forth between the Kremlin and Europe and the G-7 allied states over Russia’s demands to be paid in roubles for delivering natural gas. Analysts described this ongoing tug-of-war as a game of chicken. 

According to the Kremlin readout of the call between Putin and Scholz, Putin informed Scholz that there would be “no deterioration” in terms of gas contracts while they are switched into roubles. 

Last week, Putin ordered that Russian gas be paid for in Roubles rather than Euros or Dollars. Russian gas accounts for a whopping 40 percent of gas needs in Europe. 

Earlier on Wednesday, a top lawmaker in Russia Vyacheslav Volodin said that the European Union will have to pay in roubles if it wants to continue to receive Russian gas, and also continued that oil, grain, metals, coal, timber, and fertilizer exports could soon be priced in the same manner. 

But when asked whether the payments needed to be in roubles beginning today, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said “absolutely not,” and that the payments and delivery are a “time-consuming process.” 

Putin has called for “unfriendly” countries to pay in roubles, an announcement that boosted the Russian currency after it plunged to intense all-time lows. 

European countries have rejected the demand, and have said that this is a reneging of contracts. European countries and G7 countries have said that Russia is not entitled to redraw these contracts.

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