Russia will seek payment in roubles for gas sales from “unfriendly” countries, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday, sending European gas prices soaring on concerns the move would exacerbate the region’s energy crunch.
European countries’ dependence on Russian gas to heat their homes and power their economies has been thrown into the spotlight since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine on February 24 and the subsequent imposition of Western sanctions aimed at isolating Russia economically.
With the financial noose tightening and the European Union split on whether to sanction Russia’s energy sector, Putin hit back with a clear message – if you want our gas, buy our currency.
“Russia will continue, of course, to supply natural gas in accordance with volumes and prices … fixed in previously concluded contracts,” Putin said at a televised meeting with top government ministers. “The changes will only affect the currency of payment, which will be changed to Russian roubles,” he said.