Both Poland and Bulgaria confirm that Russian gas is to be halted.
Russian energy giant Gazprom will cease delivering gas to Bulgaria on Wednesday, both countries announced today.
The news comes after the Saint Petersburg firm confirmed it will also halt supplies to Poland, with both countries refusing to pay for energy supplies in rubles.
Bulgaria’s energy ministry announced the news in a statement, adding that there would be no imminent need for consumers to ration their gas usage. Bulgaria relies on Russia for around 90% of its gas, with the remainder coming from Azerbaijan.
Last month, a spokesman for state energy firm Bulgargaz told reporters that, as of this summer, Azerbaijan will provide the country’s entire supply, albeit at a higher price. Further ahead, Bulgaria’s government plans to connect the country to a yet-unfinished Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Greece, where gas will be imported by ship, likely from the US.
The Kremlin on Tuesday said that Gazprom was implementing the presidential decree that requires payment for gas supplies in rubles.
“All the contacts with buyers of gas have been made via Gazprom, so it will publish information on the results of the talks,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
According to Peskov, payments for gas deliveries that took place under the new scheme are expected in May.
Putin had previously demanded that ‘unfriendly’ countries pay for Russian gas in rubles. To do this, they would need to open accounts at Gazprombank and make payments in euros or dollars that would then be converted into rubles. Putin has warned that failure to comply with the currency switch would mean that affected countries risked losing Russian gas supplies.
Poland’s state-owned energy company PGNiG has confirmed that Russian energy firm Gazprom will halt gas deliveries on the Yamal contract confirmed the same Wednesday cut off. Earlier reports suggested that the supply from Russia had already been cut off.
According to a statement from the Polish gas firm, “Gazprom informed PGNiG of its intention to completely suspend deliveries under the Yamal contract at the beginning of the contract day on April 27.”
On Tuesday, a Gazprom spokesman announced that “today, Poland is obliged to pay for gas supplies in accordance with the new payment procedure,” referring to Russia’s demand that “unfriendly countries” buy its gas in rubles.
Poland has refused to follow this procedure, and on Tuesday sanctioned Gazprom, which owns a 48% stake in the Polish company that co-owns the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline. The 4,000km line transports gas from the Yamal Peninsula and western Siberia to Germany and Poland via Belarus.
Media reports soon followed, suggesting that the supply to Poland had already been stopped, and that the government in Warsaw had convened a crisis meeting.
PGNiG insisted that supplies to consumers would be uninterrupted, with gas in storage and sourced from other suppliers making up the shortfall.
Poland has been one of the staunchest proponents of the anti-Russia sanctions imposed by the US and EU since Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February, and has allowed Western weapons to enter Ukraine from its territory.
While some gas-dependent countries such as Germany have cautioned the EU against cutting off the flow from Russia, and others like Hungary have stated that they will keep buying Moscow’s product, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has vowed to ban all Russian coal, oil and gas imports by the end of the year.
Several Russian gas buyers have signalled they might be able to agree to Moscow’s demands. On Monday, Uniper, Germany’s major importer of Russian gas, said it would be possible to pay for future supplies without breaching Western sanctions.
Biden’s a gas
Of course behind the rhetoric, Gas supplies have been central to the Ukraine crisis. After much pressure from the US going back since its conception, Germany finally scraped the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
NEW: The BIDENS are entangled in a Ukrainian corruption scandal:@JoeBiden pushed Ukraine to fire a prosecutor seen as corrupt.— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) May 2, 2019
BUT the prosecutor had opened a case into a company that was paying HUNTER BIDEN.
The Bidens say they never discussed it. https://t.co/tblUPYPJMG
Ukraine has long described the €10 billion project — whose construction was completed in September but has yet to start operating — as a threat to its security. Nord Stream 2 bypasses the country, and Kyiv had raised concerns that this would allow Russia to shut off gas transport via existing land pipelines, costing Ukraine billions in transit fees.
Biden’s involvement in Ukraine gas all it via his son has also been a point of controversy dating back to 2014 when Biden ran the Ukraine office during the Obama tenure.
Hunter Biden, who had no background in utilities or European markets, was reportedly paid $3 million to attend Burisma the largest Ukrainian natural gas company board meetings.
Many questions were asked about how Joe Biden’s unqualified son got on the board of a US funding conduit when his father was the overseer of the operations in Ukraine.
Burisma became the funding conduit as Azov’s weaponry went from clubs and chains to trucks and heavy machine guns, to artillery and tanks. On their website, they would portray their new wealth as contributions from grateful citizens. As they formed they were moved east to start killing rebelling Ukrainians.
It was at this time, in May of 2014, that Hunter Biden was put on the board of Burisma, as was Devon Archer, a financial adviser to then-Secretary of State John Kerry. Thereafter the largesse to Azov increased. So conspicuous was their growth that Congressman John Conyers initiated a bill to ban CIA funding of Nazis in Ukraine, which passed unanimously.
The Azov website was taken down. Months later the administration reached out to Congressional Republican leadership and got the Conyers bill repealed.
Eight years later and Biden is president, Facebook lifted its ban on supporting Nazis and Ukraine is at war.