Amid the row over the European Union's plan to impose sanctions on the Russian oil and gas, some countries which are highly dependent on Russian energy resources, are exploring ways to purchase oil from Moscow. In the latest development, Euractiv reported that Germany and Italy have allowed companies to open ruble accounts to pay for the Russian gas and oil. Its main aim is to allow companies to continue buying Russian gas without breaching EU sanctions. Surprisingly, as per the report, the decision was taken after consulting with the senior members of the European Union.
Meanwhile, Poland, Bulgaria and Finland have clarified they will not allow such changes in their territory. Currently, as the bloc is forming a road map to minimise its dependency on Russian gas, Brussels has given two sets of written recommendations to the companies on the ways to buy Russian energy "without breaching sanctions". However, the legal route remains unclear.
Last week, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the 27 member bloc has to create clear compliance on whether capitulating to Russia’s payment scheme would breach sanctions, with no official ruling on the matter. On the other hand, Poland has demanded clearer guidance from Brussels on whether companies can open ruble accounts.
It is worth mentioning the latest development came nearly a month after Moscow, in strong remarks, conveyed, "it won’t engage in charity if Europe refuses to pay in the Russian currency." It means Moscow will now renew the gas contract to force the unfriendly countries to pay in Russian currency i.e in the ruble. However, at that time, Moscow remained tight-lipped on the further course of action if the major consumer countries refused to pay in the Russian currency.
Meanwhile, G7-- an inter-governmental political forum consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States -- held a video conference over Russia's demand and said it would not adhere to the demand. At that time, German energy minister Robert Habeck also denied compliance with Russia's order. “Payment in the ruble is not acceptable, and we will urge the companies affected not to follow (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s demand," Habeck had told reporters.