Warsaw, Poland: Polish and Bulgarian leaders accused Moscow of using natural gas to blackmail their countries after Russia’s state-controlled energy company stopped supplying them with gas Wednesday. European Union leaders echoed those comments and were holding an emergency meeting on the Russian move.
The gas cutoff to Poland and Bulgaria came after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that “unfriendly” countries would need to start paying for gas in rubles, Russia’s currency, which Bulgaria and Poland refused to do.
Russian energy giant Gazprom said in a statement that it hadn’t received any payments from Poland and Bulgaria since April 1 and was suspending their deliveries starting Wednesday. And if those countries siphon off Russian gas intended for other European customers, Gazprom said deliveries to Europe will be reduced by that amount.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the announcement by Gazprom “is yet another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail.”
Europe is not without some leverage in the dispute, since it pays Russia $400 million a day for gas, money Putin would lose with a complete cutoff. Russia, however, rejected the idea that it was using blackmail while warning it may halt gas supplies to other European customers if they also refuse to switch to paying in rubles.