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Poland and Bulgaria say Russia has Suspended Natural Gas Supplies

Officials from Poland and Bulgaria warned Tuesday that Moscow is shutting off natural gas supply to their nations because they refuse to pay in Russian rubles, a demand made by President Vladimir Putin after his country was sanctioned for its invasion of Ukraine.

According to their governments, Russian state-owned energy behemoth Gazprom told the two EU and NATO member states that gas shipments will be halted beginning Wednesday.

These would be the first suspensions since Putin said last month that “unfriendly international purchasers” would have to deal with Gazprom in rubles rather than dollars and euros. Only Hungary has consented, with the rest of the world dismissing the demand as an unacceptably one-sided breach of contract and a breach of sanctions.

If exports to other nations are also blocked, it might hurt Europe’s economy by pushing up natural gas costs and perhaps leading to rationing — but it would also hurt Russia’s economy.

According to PGNiG, the Polish national gas utility, the cutoffs will impair supply of Russian gas to Poland via the Yamal-Europe pipeline and to Bulgaria via the TurkStream pipeline, according to Bulgaria’s Energy Ministry.

Gas is transported from Russia to Poland and Germany via Belarus via the Yamal-Europe pipeline. Poland receives about 9 billion cubic meters of water each year, which is enough to meet about 45 percent of the country’s needs.

PGNiG said it was considering legal action in response to Moscow’s demand for payment.

However, after working to lessen its dependency on Russian energy sources, Climate Minister Anna Moskwa stated that Poland is willing to make do. Several years ago, the country established its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Swinoujscie, on the Baltic Sea coast, and a pipeline from Norway will be operational later this year.

“There will be no gas scarcity in Polish houses,” Moskwa wrote on Twitter.

Poland, according to Rystad Energy analyst Emily McClain, has abundant natural gas in storage and the ability to scale up imports.

Even though the Balkan country of 6.5 million people satisfies over 90% of its gas needs with Russian imports, Bulgaria said it was working with state gas firms to discover alternate supplies and that no limitations on domestic usage will be enforced for the time being.

Increased Azeri gas imports would be one practical and reasonably quick alternative accessible to the Bulgarian government.

During the Russian invasion, Poland was a staunch backer of neighboring Ukraine, acting as a transit route for weaponry delivered to Kyiv by the US and other Western nations.

This week, Warsaw said that it, too, would be providing tanks to Ukraine’s army. It issued sanctions on 50 Russian billionaires and corporations, including Gazprom, on Tuesday.

Bulgaria, previously a staunch ally of Moscow, severed many of its connections with Moscow when a new, liberal government gained power last fall, as well as in the aftermath of the invasion. It has backed Russian sanctions and supplied humanitarian help to Ukraine.

Bulgaria has been reticent to lend military help, but Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and officials of his coalition government are scheduled to visit Kyiv on Wednesday to discuss more assistance.

For household heating, electricity generation, and the fuel industry, Europe buys a lot of Russian natural gas, with Germany being particularly reliant on it. Despite the conflict, imports have persisted.

Approximately 60% of imports are paid in euros, with the remainder in dollars. Putin’s proposal appears to be aimed at bolstering the Russian ruble in the face of Western sanctions.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the US has been ready for such a Russian shutdown.

“Certain of that has involved asking some Asian nations with excess supply to offer it to Europe,” Psaki explained. “In certain circumstances, we’ve done that, and it’s been a continuous endeavor.”

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