International

G-7 to reject Russia’s demand to pay for natural gas in rubles, Germany says

The Group of Seven (G-7) is planning to reject Russia’s demand that natural gas exports be paid for in rubles, according to a top German official.

German Energy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters on Monday that “all G-7 ministers agreed completely that this [would be] a one-sided and clear breach of the existing contracts” for natural gas, according to The Associated Press.

“Payment in ruble is not acceptable and we will urge the companies affected not to follow [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s demand,” Habeck added.

Habeck said officials from the G-7 nations —  France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada — came together on Friday to discuss the energy export situation, according to the AP. Representatives from the European Union were also at the meeting.

Putin last week announced that Russia would insist that “unfriendly countries” pay for Russian natural gas exports in rubles going forward as a retaliation for “illegitimate decisions on the so-called freezing of the Russian assets” made by Western countries.

“A number of Western countries made illegitimate decisions on the so-called freezing of the Russian assets, effectively drawing a line over reliability of their currencies, undermining the trust for those currencies,” Putin told government officials during a meeting, according to the AP.

The Russian president also said it “makes no sense whatsoever” to “supply our goods to the European Union, the United States and receive payment in dollars, euros and a number of other currencies.”

Russia provides roughly 40 percent of Europe’s natural gas. Earlier this month, a top Russian official threatened to withhold the natural gas it supplies in Europe as a response to Western sanctions amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Asked on Monday if Moscow would stop supplying gas to Europe if the countries refuse to pay for the commodity in rubles, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said “we clearly aren’t going to supply gas for free.”

“In our situation, it’s hardly possible and feasible to engage in charity for Europe,” he added, according to the AP.

Pressed on what will occur if Russia stops exporting its natural gas, Habeck said, “We are prepared for all scenarios.”

“Putin’s demand to convert the contracts to ruble [means] he is standing with his back to the wall in that regard, otherwise he wouldn’t have made that demand,” he added, according to the AP.

The German energy ministry also said Russia needs rubles to pay for the ongoing conflict, including funds for troops, the news wire reported.

Tags Natural gas ruble Russian natural gas

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