The decision by Russian energy giant Gazprom to suspend gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland is yet another attempt at blackmail, according to European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday.
The following decision was made by Russia after Poland and Bulgaria refused to pay in rubles.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement:
“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.”
“This is unjustified and unacceptable. And it shows once again the unreliability of Russia as a gas supplier.”
According to the Associated Press, however, Fatih Birol, the executive director of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, said the cutoff was a “weaponization of energy supplies.”
Natural gas prices in Europe rose by 25% in response to the report before falling later in the day, the Associated Press also noted.
President of the European Council Charles Michel said the EU was in contact with Warsaw and Sofia, and that the countries will “remain united” in the course of a gradual shutdown of Russia’s gas supply.
Here’s what Michel tweeted:
“Gazprom’s decision to cut gas supplies to some EU Member States is another aggressive unilateral move by Russia. In contact with (Polish Prime Minister Mateusz) @MorawieckiM and (Bulgarian Prime Minister) @KirilPetkov. We will remain united and support each other while phasing out Russian energy imports”
Regarding “energy security and diversification,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov also took to Twitter mentioning a call with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis
“Discussed with @kmitsotakis the Gazprom situation and will continue to work together for #energy security and #diversification – of strategic importance for both countries and the region.
We both are confident for the successful completion of the #IGB on time.”
We both are confident for the successful completion of the #IGB on time.
— Kiril Petkov (@KirilPetkov) April 27, 2022
Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s Prime Minister also believes that followings Russia’s move to shuts off gas was revenge because his nation supports Ukraine.
He said in a Twitter post, “I spoke with @OlafScholz today about an urgent delivery of arms to and reliance on gas and oil. Short term it will be difficult to wean Europe off them, but long term it will serve peace. Europe cannot afford to live in constant danger from aggression.”
I spoke with @OlafScholz today about an urgent delivery of arms to 🇺🇦 and reliance on 🇷🇺 gas and oil. Short term it will be difficult to wean Europe off them, but long term it will serve peace. Europe cannot afford to live in constant danger from 🇷🇺 aggression. pic.twitter.com/j87wZNTYwJ
— Mateusz Morawiecki (@MorawieckiM) April 26, 2022
Russia’s move raised wider concerns that other countries could be targeted next as Western countries increase their support for Ukraine amid a war now in its third month
However, Moscow says the gas cut-off is to enforce its demand for payment in rubles, needed to shield its economy from sanctions. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia was a reliable energy supplier and denied it was engaging in blackmail.
Peskov argued that the Russian demand to switch to paying for gas in rubles resulted from Western actions that froze Russian hard currency assets. He said those were effectively “stolen” by the West in an “unprecedented unfriendly action.”