The European Commission is now warning that member states pay for gas from Russia in rubles, which is what Russia is asking of them.
The commission conducted a legal analysis of the consequences of President Putin’s decree on ruble payments, and concluded that this could lead to a breach of sanctions against Russia.
Russia is asking gas buyers to open two accounts in Gazprombank, which is under Russian state control. One account for foreign currency and another account for rubles. After that, Gazprombank is responsible for exchanging money for rubles for payment.
But this measure raises legal problems, according to the commission. It gives the Russian state complete control of the money until the gas bill is paid. Russia also has complete control over the exchange rate, which can be set at the rate that Russia asks for. Thus, this may mean that sanctions have been violated.
The Commission has repeatedly said that agreements with Russia must be preserved, and that most of them include payment in euros or dollars.
The commission also said it intends to respond to any attempt by Russia to circumvent the sanctions.
Now, it is the companies that buy gas that have the difficult task of balancing Russian demands and sanctions.
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