Germany depends on Russian gas for around 40% of its needs, but has joined Western sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine, including shutting down the Nord Stream 2 Baltic gas pipeline designed to double the flow of Russian gas directly to Germany. The Russian gas supplier said it ended its stake in Gazprom Germania GMBH and all of its assets, including Gazprom Marketing & Trading Ltd.
However, he provided no further details or explanation.
Katja Yafimava, senior researcher at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, told Reuters: “I think this means that Gazprom is pulling a curtain on its active participation in the European gas market. Essentially, it is going home because it no longer feels welcome.
“I think Gazprom understands that it is going to face a hostile political and regulatory environment in Europe and therefore wants to consolidate and conduct all of its activities in one place – St. Petersburg, most likely with the political support of the Russian government.”
The move further complicates energy relations between Russia and Germany, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to impose ruble pricing for gas on buyers from what Moscow considers hostile countries.
On Thursday, Putin warned “unfriendly” countries, including all EU members, that they would be cut off from Russian gas unless they opened a ruble account to pay for deliveries.
Putin told a televised government meeting: “They need to open ruble accounts in Russian banks.
“It is from these accounts that payments will be made for gas delivered from tomorrow, April 1.”
He continued: “If such payments are not made, we will regard this as a breach of our buyers’ obligations with all the consequences that flow therefrom.”
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While the United States has banned the import of Russian oil and gas, the European Union has withheld deliveries from Moscow.
According to the decree, all payments would be handled by Russian bank Gazprom, a subsidiary of state-owned energy giant Gazprom.
Buyers will transfer payments to a Gazprombank account in foreign currency, which the bank will then convert into rubles and transfer to the buyer’s ruble account.
Western countries have piled crippling sanctions on Moscow since its invasion of Ukraine, including freezing its $300 billion in foreign currency reserves.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Putin’s demand for payment in rubles was a sign of Moscow’s economic and financial “desperation” caused by Western sanctions.