Gazprom, the Russian energy behemoth, suspended gas shipments to Bulgaria and Poland on Wednesday due to a failure to pay for gas in rubles. It is Russia’s most forceful retaliation to the West’s sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. Gazprom says it hasn’t received ruble payments from Poland or Bulgaria since April 1 and has halted supplies as of Wednesday. “Due to a lack of ruble payments, Gazprom has entirely discontinued gas supply to Bulgargaz [Bulgaria] and PGNiG [Poland],” Gazprom stated in a statement.The suspension of supplies to Poland and Bulgaria was the “start of Russia imposing economic pressure on Europe,” according to Nathan Piper, director of oil and gas research at Investec, and a move that might “escalate” with additional EU states. Poland’s deputy foreign minister stated that the nation could function without Gazprom’s gas and that the government had “made some measures many years ago to prepare for such a circumstance. Is it possible for the world to function without Russian oil and gas?
Germany has ruled out an embargo on Russian oil in the near future. According to Marcin Przdacz, there are “options to receive the gas from other partners,” such as the United States and Gulf countries. The suspension was regarded as a violation of contract by PGNiG, which purchased 53 percent of its coal and gas from Moscow during first quarter of this year. The business said it will take efforts to restore the gas supply.Meanwhile, Bulgaria’s energy minister, Alexander Nikolov, said the republic had paid for Russian gas deliveries in April and that if the supply is halted, Gazprom would be in breach of its current contract.”It is apparent that [Russian] oil and gas is just being utilized as a political and economic instrument in the present fight,” Mr Nikolov added, “since all commercial and legal duties are being respected.”

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