UPDATE: WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Officials in Poland and Bulgaria said Tuesday that Russia is suspending their countries’ natural gas deliveries after they refused to pay for their supplies in Russian rubles.

The governments of the two European Union and NATO members said Russian energy giant Gazprom informed them it was halting the gas supplies starting Wednesday.

The suspensions would be the first since Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month that “unfriendly” foreign buyers would have to pay the state-owned Gazprom in rubles instead of dollars and euros.

If Gazprom suspends supplies to other countries, it could cause economic pain to Europe, causing gas prices to rise and possibly leading to rationing. Germany is particularly vulnerable due to its heavy dependence on Russian gas. But cutoffs would also deal a blow to Russia’s own economy.

Poland’s state gas company, PGNiG, said it was informed by Gazprom that its deliveries through the Yamal-Europe pipeline would stop Wednesday morning.

Later, the Bulgarian Energy Ministry said it was notified that Bulgaria’s supplies of Russian gas via the TurkStream pipeline would cease on Wednesday as well.

Poland has been a strong supporter of neighboring Ukraine during the Russian invasion. It is a transit point for weapons the United States and other Western nations have provided Ukraine.

The Polish government confirmed this week that it was sending tanks to Ukraine’s army. On Tuesday, it announced a sanctions list targeting 50 Russian oligarchs and companies, including Gazprom.

Bulgaria, once one of Moscow’s closest allies, has cut many of its old ties with Russia after a new liberal government took the reigns last fall and after Putin’s military invaded Ukraine. It has supported sanctions against Russia and provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

It has been hesitant to provide military aid to Ukraine, but Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and members of his coalition government are heading to Kyiv on Wednesday for talks with Ukrainian officials about further aid to the country.

Europe imports large amounts of Russian natural gas to heat homes, generate electricity and fuel industry. The imports have continued despite the war in Ukraine.

Around 60% of imports are paid in euros, and the rest in dollars. Putin’s demand was apparently intended to help bolster the Russian currency amid the Western sanctions imposed over the war.

European leaders said they would not comply with the rubles requirement, arguing that it violated the terms of contracts and their sanctions against Russia.

The Yamal pipeline carries natural gas from Russia to Poland and Germany, through Belarus. Poland has been receiving some 9 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually, fulfilling some 45% of the country’s needs.

Poland’s gas company said it was considering legal action over the Russian payment demand. But Polish Climate Minister Anna Moskwa stressed that Poland was prepared for such a situation after working for years to reduce its reliance on Russian energy sources.

Several years ago it opened its first terminal for liquefied natural gas, or LNG, in Swinoujscie, on the Baltic Sea coast, while later this year a pipeline bringing gas from Norway, called “Baltic Pipe,” is to become operational.

“There will be no shortage of gas in Polish homes,” Moskwa tweeted.

Bulgaria said the new gas payment system created considerable risks for the country and that it was working with state gas companies to find alternative sources to replace the supplies it gets from Russia. .

But the Bulgarian government said no restrictions on domestic gas consumption would be imposed for now even though the Balkan country of 6.5 million meets over 90% of its gas needs with Russian imports.

In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S had been preparing for such a move by Russia “in anticipation of the possibility of this happening or a decrease in what they’re providing.”

“Some of that has been asking some countries in Asia who have excess supply to provide that to Europe. We’ve done that in some cases, and it’s been an ongoing effort,” Psaki said.


WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Officials in Poland and Bulgaria say Russia is suspending their countries’ natural gas deliveries starting on Wednesday.

The governments of the two European countries said Tuesday that Russian energy giant Gazprom informed them it was halting gas supplies.

The suspensions would be the first since Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month that “unfriendly” foreign buyers would have to pay the state-owned Gazprom in rubles instead of other currencies.

Europe imports large amounts of Russian natural gas to heat homes, generate electricity and fuel industry. The imports have continued despite the war in Ukraine.

Around 60% of imports are paid in euros, and the rest in dollars. Putin’s demand was apparently intended to help bolster the Russian currency amid the war in Ukraine.

European leaders said they would not comply, arguing the requirement for them to purchase rubles and then pay Gazprom violated the terms of contracts and their sanctions against Russia.

The “Russian proposal for a two-step payment procedure is in violation with the current contract and bears considerable risks for Bulgaria, including to make payments without receiving any gas deliveries from Russia,” the Bulgarian government said.

Bulgaria said it was working with state gas companies to find alternative sources to replace the supplies it gets from Russia via Bulgaria gets russian gas via the turk stream pipeline via the TurkStream pipeline.

The government said no restrictions on domestic gas consumption would be imposed for now even though the Balkan country of 6.5 million meets over 90% of its gas needs with Russian imports.

Poland’s state gas company, PGNiG, said it was notified by Gazprom that deliveries through the Yamal-Europe pipeline would stop Wednesday.

Poland not only has refused to pay for natural gas in rubles, but the country has been a strong supporter of neighboring Ukraine during the Russian invasion. It is a transit point for weapons the United States and other Western nations have provided Ukraine.

The Polish government confirmed this week that it was sending tanks to Ukraine’s army. On Tuesday, it announced a sanctions list targeting 50 Russian oligarchs and companies, including Gazprom.

The Yamal pipeline carries natural gas from Russia to Poland and Germany, through Belarus. Poland has been receiving some 9 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually.

PGNiG said that Russia’s demand to be paid in rubles represented a breach of the Yamal contract.

Flow charts published on the website of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas showed drastic drops of gas flows at entry points in Kondratki, a town in eastern Poland, and Vysokaye, which is in Belarus.

The Russian news agency Tass cited Gazprom as saying that Poland must pay for its gas supplies under a new procedure.

Poland appeared to be the European customer to have its gas shipments halted by Russia.

Polish Climate Minister Anna Moskwa stressed that Poland was prepared for such a situation after working for years to reduce its reliance on Russian energy sources. She said the country has been effectively independent when it comes to Russian gas for some time.

“There will be no shortage of gas in Polish homes,” Moskwa tweeted.

The minister repeated that message at a news conference, saying: “Appropriate diversification strategies that we have introduced allow us to feel on the safe side in this situation,” she said.

Poland has been working since the 1990s to wean itself off of Russian energy and was already on track to end its reliance on Russian gas this year. It recently moved to stop imports of Russian coal.

The government in Warsaw has urged other European countries to lessen their dependence on Russian energy sources.