Wednesday, May 18, 2022
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Austria rules out ruble payments for Russian gas — foreign minister

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Austria has no plans to pay for Russian gas in rubles, Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg told Al Jazeera in an interview.

“Our position is clear. We are committed to the already existing agreements [with Russia] and will not pay in rubles, we have no such intention,” Schallenberg said.

In late march, Russian President Vladimir Putin requested moving payments for gas supplies to unfriendly countries to rubles, saying that Moscow would refuse accepting payments on such contracts in discredited currencies, including dollars and euros. He also tasked the government with giving Gazprom an instruction on amending present contracts. On March 31, Putin signed a decree on rules of gas trade with unfriendly countries, which stipulates a new system of contract payment.

The new procedure of payment for Russian pipeline gas in rubles by buyers from unfriendly countries came into force on April 1. Those buyers are required to open special ruble and foreign currency accounts with Gazprombank to pay for gas supplies. Currency conversion will be carried out on Russian exchanges. In case of incomplete payment, the Russian customs is authorized to ban deliveries. The government commission for the control of foreign investment in Russia has the right to issue exceptions to these rules for individual buyers.

In turn, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said on April 27, that Austria can pay for the Russian gas in euros, despite the changes to the payment procedure introduced by Gazprom. Austria’s oil and gas concern OMV said, responding to a TASS request for a comment, that it had analyzed information from Gazprom and was working on a solution that would be in line with the terms of sanctions.

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