Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled gas company, cut off Poland and Bulgaria from its natural gas supply. The Kremlin warned other European countries that they can face the same situation.
As a result, tensions between Russia and the European Union rose again to concerning levels.
Gazprom Cuts Off Gas Supply
On Wednesday, Gazprom decided to cut off both Poland and Bulgaria from the company’s enormous gas supply exports. Fortunately, both countries managed to secure enough natural gas supplies from other EU countries to keep their light on.
However, the EU is already worrying about how the group can manage to survive without Russia's oil and gas. While the EU can find another source for its energy needs, a new supplier likely means higher prices amid lower supplies.
Russia’s decision to cut off Poland and Bulgaria’s gas supply is a warning sign. This is the first time that Russia made good on its threat to punish “unfriendly countries”.
Earlier, Putin demanded that these countries pay for natural gas orders using Russian currency. His decision aims to help stabilize the Russian economy amid sanctions from the rest of the world.
Russia Warns Others to Not Interfere In Its Conflict With Ukraine
In a speech to Russia’s Council of Legislators, Putin warned other nations not to interfere in its war with Ukraine. Observers cautioned that Russia will escalate the tension in eastern Ukraine in the next few weeks.
Putin also warned that if Russia perceives a strategic threat, it will unleash lightning-fast counterstrikes. Meanwhile, Ukraine officials are scrambling to evacuate residents across the Donbas region.
While Putin did not specifically threaten Ukraine with nuclear weapons, experts advise against ignoring the possibility. The potential for a nuclear strike remains possible, especially if Russian military options grow fewer.
“We have all the tools for this,” Putin said. “Those that no one else right now can boast of having. And we will not brag about them. We will use them if necessary. I want everyone to know that.”
EU Needs New Gas Supply
Russia’s initial salvo of cutting off the gas supply of an EU member puts the Union in a bind. Europe is heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas to heat their homes and power their vehicles.
This is why despite the need for economic sanctions against Russia, many members prefer not to ban oil and gas imports.
Faced with the prospect of losing an energy supplier, EU officials are now trying to figure out how to move on from Russian fuel. However, the damage is already done as far as relationships between Russia and the EU are concerned.
Why Poland and Bulgaria?
According to Reuters, Russia picked Poland and Bulgaria because of their refusal to pay their gas orders with Russian rubles.
Russia’s sudden preference for its own currency was met by criticism from EU President Ursula von der Leyen.
She said that paying in rubles violates EU sanctions. She also warned that companies still doing business with Russia shouldn’t accede to its demands.
Watch the Bloomberg Markets and Finance news video reporting that Gazprom cuts off gas supplies to Poland, Bulgaria:
What do you think of Russia’s cutting off Poland and Bulgaria’s gas supplies over their refusal to pay in rubles? Who do you think will blink in this game of international chicken?
Tell us what you think about the ongoing Russian conflict. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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