Russia is following through on a promise it made to European countries that if they didn’t pay for Russian oil with rubles, they wouldn’t be allowed to buy it at all. So starting Wednesday, Poland and Bulgaria will have their gas supplies cut off by Russian energy giant Gazprom. This shot European gas prices up 17% and is being seen as an escalation by Russia, even if it did make the threat before actually pulling the trigger.
Now countries in Europe, which are trying to avoid energy rationing, are facing a simple question: if they can’t get the energy from Russia, where will they get it?
Poland’s climate ministry has said that its energy supplies are secure for now and that consumers don’t need to worry. Bulgaria has said it’s taking steps to find alternatives and that there’s no need to restrict gas consumption at the moment. No country except Hungary has agreed to pay in rubles.
“This is a turning point that has been accelerated by Russia today,” said Piotr Naimski, Poland’s top official for strategic energy infrastructure.
“Any buyer rejecting the new payment procedure out of hand is running a very real risk of supplies being cut,” said Katja Yafimava, senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.