International

Gazprom decision sparks outrage from European president: ‘Blackmail’

AP Photo/Michael Probst.

A top European official blasted Russian state-controlled energy company Gazprom’s decision to shut off natural gas to two NATO member nations in Europe, calling it “blackmail.”

“The announcement by Gazprom that it is unilaterally stopping delivery of gas to customers in Europe is yet another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This is unjustified and unacceptable. And it shows once again the unreliability of Russia as a gas supplier.”

She said they were continuing to work with international partners to get access to alternative sources of natural gas and noted that a “coordinated EU response” was in the process of being crafted.

“Europeans can trust that we stand united and in full solidarity with the Member States impacted in the face of this new challenge. Europeans can count on our full support,” von der Leyen said. 

The development comes as Gazprom alleged in a memo that Poland and Bulgaria were refusing to use Russian rubles to pay for natural gas, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded, consequently forcing Gazprom to shut off access of fuel to the two countries, according to The Associated Press.

The energy minister of Bulgaria, however, has pushed back against Gazprom’s claims that they had not paid for natural gas supplies since earlier this month.

Last month, von der Leyen and President Biden announced that they would be setting up a task force meant to curb European reliance on fossil fuels from Russia. 

The U.S. and others are seeking to isolate Russia economically in rebuke of its invasion of Ukraine, now more than two months in. 

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