Russia has further halted gas supplies to Europe after state energy giant Gazprom shut off taps at a leading Dutch trader and stopped flows to some companies in Denmark and Germany.
The intensification of the economic battle on Tuesday over the Russian invasion of Ukraine follows a nightly decision by the EU to impose an embargo on most Russian oil imports as part of financial sanctions against the Kremlin.
EU leaders said the ban would have an immediate impact on 75% of Russia’s oil imports and would rise to 90% by the end of the year.
Gazprom extended its gas restrictions on Tuesday by stopping supplies to GasTerra, which buys and trades in gas on behalf of the Dutch government.
She later said she would also cut off gas flows to Danish energy companies Ørsted and Shell Energy because of her contract to supply gas to Germany after both companies did not make payments in rubles.
GasTerra said it found contracts elsewhere to supply the 2 billion cubic meters of gas it expected from Gazprom by October.
Prior to the night meeting in Brussels, Denmark signaled that it expected Russian gas supplies to end. However, Ørsted said on Monday that the gas supply disruption would not immediately jeopardize the country’s gas supply.
Moscow has already halted gas supplies to Bulgaria, Poland and Finland after refusing to pay in Russian rubles.
Gazprom said Shell Energy Europe Limited had told it not to pay in rubles for gas delivered to Germany. He added that the contract stipulated gas supplies of up to 1.2 billion cubic meters per year.
Gazprom said Shell and Ørsted had not paid for the gas supplies by the end of the business day on May 31 and would stop the supplies until they paid in accordance with Russian requirements.
The Kremlin demanded payments for exports in rubles earlier in the spring after the country’s currency fell off a cliff after the invasion of Ukraine and Russia was excluded from the international banking system Swift in earlier rounds of sanctions.
The European Commissioner for Energy has previously said that member states will have to reject Moscow’s demands because the mechanism set by Russia would violate the bloc’s sanctions, even if it left them without alternative gas supplies.
The reduction in supply has pushed already high gas prices even higher, contributing to soaring inflation and also putting pressure on European governments and companies to find alternative supplies and infrastructure, including storage facilities.
The EU has been criticized in recent weeks for not going far enough in its sanctions against Russia. Before Monday’s summit in Brussels, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on EU leaders to show unity against Vladimir Putin.
According to the compromise plan from the summit, Russian oil transported by the Soviet-era Druzhba pipeline would be exempted from the EU embargo for the needs of Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Despite this agreement, the Estonian prime minister called on the EU to go further and work on a seventh round of sanctions against Russia, which would include restrictions on gas imports.
But Kaja Kallas said she wasn’t sure it would happen. “I think the gas must be in the seventh package, but I’m also a realist,” Kallas told reporters when she arrived in Brussels the next day. “I don’t think he’ll be there.”
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