EU Accuses Moscow of Blackmail as Russia Cuts Gas Supplies

The European Union has accused Russian gas giant Gazprom of “blackmail” after it moved to halt supplies to some European customers. 

The European Union’s chief executive said that the bloc was working on a coordinated response to Moscow’s escalation. 

Gazprom announced that it would cut supplies to Poland and Bulgaria for failing to pay for gas in roubles. This makes it Moscow’s toughest response yet to Western sanctions being imposed over Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the Gazprom announcement to unilaterally stop delivering gas to customers in Europe is another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail. 

The move is unjustified and unacceptable, and shows again the unreliability of Russia as a gas supplier, Von Der Leyen said in a statement. 

The EU is prepared for this scenario and will keep working to ensure that alternative supplies to gas and gas storage are filled. A coordinated response to the escalation is also being worked on, said Von Der Leyen. The “gas coordination group” of representatives from governments as well as the gas industry was set to meet today. 

Poland’s climate ministry said that its energy supplies were secure and that there was no need to limit supply to customers. 

Gazprom is majority-owned by the Russian state. It said that its services would not resume until payments for the gas were made in roubles. Previously, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that “unfriendly” countries pay for gas in his currency. 

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that he believes the move to cut off gas to Poland is revenge for the announcement earlier this week of sanctions that targets 50 Russian oligarchs and companies. 

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petrov said the gas suspension to his country’s deliveries was a “gross violation of their contract,” and said that Bulgaria would “not succumb to such a racket.” 

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