Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he would not accept payments for natural gas shipments in dollars or euros — instead, “unfriendly countries” would have to pay in Russian rubles, TASS reported.
The move comes ahead of this week’s meeting of EU leaders, who are expected to decide whether to sanction Russian energy imports after having hit the country’s financial sector to punish Moscow for invading Ukraine.
Last year, the EU imported some 40 percent of its annual gas needs from Russia.
“Russia will of course continue to supply natural gas in accordance with the volumes and prices … fixed in contracts concluded earlier,” Putin told government ministers. But “I have decided to implement a set of measures to transfer payments … for our natural gas supplied to the so-called unfriendly countries for Russian rubles as soon as possible.”
Putin said he would instruct Gazprom, the partially state-owned company with a monopoly on pipeline gas exports, to amend its existing contracts accordingly.
“All foreign consumers should be given the opportunity to perform the necessary operations,” Putin added.