By: April Carson
President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would suspend gas deliveries to buyers from "unfriendly" countries if they continued to use payment methods other than cash starting April 1, as the latest salvo in a battle with Europe over energy sales.
"We are ready to switch to a settlement in national currency, but our European partners are not ready for this yet," Putin said Friday. "They are thinking of the next presidential election in the United States and do not want problems."
“To purchase Russian gas, they must establish ruble bank accounts in Russia,” Putin said during a televised address on Thursday. “Starting April 1, gas will be paid for from those accounts. We shall consider this a failure by the customer if such payments are not made.”
According to a decree signed by Putin, buyers should open personal accounts with Gazprombank in order to swap foreign currencies for rubles for end-of-month settlements.
Europe has been struggling to reduce its reliance on Russian energy supplies, which have come under pressure as relations between Moscow and the West have deteriorated over the conflict in Ukraine.
"We will be forced to switch to a simpler system of payments, in which the customer must open an account with Gazprombank and transfer money to it in advance," Putin said at a meeting of the Russian Security Council on Thursday. "If our partners continue refusing to pay for gas in cash, we will have to refuse them supplies."
The crisis in Ukraine has led to a sharp fall in trade between Russia and the West, with the United States and the European Union slapping sanctions on Moscow over its annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian economy is already feeling the pinch, with growth slowing to just 0.2 percent in the first quarter of this year.
Putin also said Russia could halt natural gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine if it does not receive advance payments for them. "We can pipe gas to Europe without Ukraine, but then our transit fee will be so high that it would defeat the whole purpose of sending it," Putin said. "We are not going to do this, of course, but our European partners must understand that."
Putin's comments come as the European Union readies a new round of sanctions against Russia, which is expected to be announced on Wednesday.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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