EU believes it has found a way for companies to pay for Russian gas without breaching wartime sanctions
EU companies may be able to circumvent Russia’s request to receive gas payments in rubles without breaching sanctions if they pay in euros or dollars which are then converted into Russian currency, the Commission said on Friday. European.
Businesses should also ask for additional terms on transactions, such as a statement that they consider their contractual obligations fulfilled once they deposit the non-Russian currencies.
Moscow has warned Europe that it risks having its gas supply cut off unless it pays in rubles.
In March, it issued a decree offering energy buyers to open accounts at Gazprombank to make payments in euros or dollars, which would then be converted into rubles.
The Commission said earlier this month that the decree risked breaching EU sanctions because it would put the actual completion of the purchase – once payments were converted into rubles – in the hands of Russian authorities.
In a consultative document sent to member states on Thursday, however, the Commission said Moscow’s proposal did not necessarily prevent a payment process in line with EU sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict.
The Commission’s opinion is not legally binding, but is an attempt to guide the discussion as member states work out how they can continue to pay for Russian gas.
EU companies stick to Gazprom contracts
Brussels said in the document that there are options that could allow companies to continue to pay for gas legally.
“EU companies can ask their Russian counterparts to fulfill their contractual obligations in the same way as before the adoption of the decree, i.e. by depositing the amount due in euros or dollars”, indicates the document.
However, the procedure for obtaining exemptions from the requirements of the decree is not yet clear, he added.
Before making payments, EU operators could also clearly state that they consider their contractual obligations fulfilled when they deposit euros or dollars with Gazprombank – and not later, after conversion of the payment. in rubles, according to the document.
“It would be desirable to seek confirmation from the Russian side that this procedure is possible under the rules of the decree,” the document said.
A spokesman for the European Commission said companies should stick to the currency agreed in their contracts with Gazprom – 97% of which are in euros or dollars.
The EU sanctions regime does not prohibit companies from opening accounts with Gazprombank or engaging with the bank to try to find a solution, the document says.