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Putin Gives Countries Buying Gas From Russia An Ultimatum In Televised Statement

Putin Gives Countries Buying Gas From Russia An Ultimatum In Televised Statement

Vladimir Putin has demanded a payment in roubles for Russian gas supplies, or contracts will be halted, according to reports

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has said payments are to be made in roubles for Russian gas supplies from tomorrow, 1 April.

In a statement broadcast to television, Putin said countries buying gas from Russia must pay in roubles or their contracts will not be honoured.

The president claimed that the switch was to 'strengthen our sovereignty'.

In recent weeks, the rouble has seen a decline in value following financial sanctions on the country amid the ongoing war with Ukraine.

Putin's armies are undoubtedly bigger, but the war hasn't gone exactly to their plan so far.

In his televised statement today, 31 March, Putin said, per Reuters: "In order to purchase Russian natural gas, they must open rouble accounts in Russian banks. It is from these accounts that payments will be made for gas delivered starting from tomorrow.

"If such payments are not made, we will consider this a default on the part of buyers, with all the ensuing consequences. Nobody sells us anything for free, and we are not going to do charity either – that is, existing contracts will be stopped."

Russia supplies roughly a third of Europe's gas, so it appears Putin made this decision in the wake of the amount of sanctions placed on the country.

However, a number of Western companies and governments rejected Putin's announcement, calling it a breach of existing contracts, which are set in euros or dollars. France's economy minister said France and Germany were preparing for possible scenarios in which gas flows from Russia could be halted, which would affect a large area of Europe.

Germany and France said the move amounted to 'blackmail', The Guardian reports.

Vladimir Putin.

Putin's proposition for Western countries to pay in roubles would mean that countries would be required to open a Russian bank account to exchange euros or dollars into roubles.

This could prove to be a difficult task, however, as some Russian banks were cut off from the SWIFT system as part of a spate of financial sanctions against the country. SWIFT is an online system that facilitates international payments.

Putin's demand for Western countries to pay in roubles would help Russia get around financial sanctions, to an extent.

Countries in need of fuel would be forced to purchase the currency through a bank, which would prop up the rouble's value, after it declined in recent weeks.

Putin said exisiting contracts will be honoured, provided customers follow the new rules, Sky News reports.

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Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Russia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin