G7 refuses to pay for gas in Russian rubles
Paying for Russian gas in rubles would be unacceptable, G7 countries have reiterated, with German Economy Minister Robert Habeck saying the demand showed President Vladimir Putin’s back was “against the wall”.
“All G7 (energy) ministers agreed that this is a unilateral and clear breach of the existing agreements,” said Habeck, whose country holds the presidency of the Group of Seven most industrialized nations.
“Payment in rubles is not acceptable. We call on the companies concerned not to comply with Putin’s demand.”
Putin announced last week that Russia would only accept payments in rubles for natural gas deliveries to “unfriendly countries”, which includes all of the European Union.
The move comes as Moscow struggles to prop up its economy in the face of debilitating sanctions imposed by the West over its invasion of Ukraine.
“I think we must interpret this demand as Putin having his back against the wall,” Habeck told reporters following a virtual meeting with his G7 counterparts. The club consists of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States.
Like other European countries, Germany is racing to reduce its heavy reliance on Russian energy imports in the wake of the Ukraine war.
Germany has to wean itself off Russian oil, gas, and coal “in order not to strengthen the regime”, Habeck said, and because Moscow has revealed itself to be “an unreliable supplier”.
Berlin was quick to pull the plug on the massive Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia in protest to Putin’s aggression.
But the German government has so far resisted calls to boycott Russian oil and gas, saying doing so could plunge Europe’s biggest economy into chaos.