Poland and Bulgaria victims of Kremlin sanctions

No rubles, no gas, Vladimir Putin warned in March. His threat came into effect on Wednesday, when Gazprom stopped supplying gas to Poland and Bulgaria. The EU is planning a “coordinated European response”.

Vladimir Putin threatens to stop gas supplies to all “unfriendly” countries © AFP / Natalia KOLESNIKOVA

As quickly as announced, as quickly as implemented. Russian giant Gazprom cut supplies to Bulgaria and Poland on Wednesday morning after notifying the two affected countries on Tuesday evening. The company only applies the policies of the Kremlin, which uses its status as an energy supplier to counteract international sanctions related to the war in Ukraine.

Response to Western sanctions

Vladimir Putin’s position has been clear since the publication of a decree on March 31: the countries he classifies as “unfriendly” (particularly members of the European Union) must necessarily pay in rubles for the purchase of gas from this date, the submitted contracts with Russia. A direct response to sanctions imposed by the West in retaliation for Russian military aggression in Ukraine. “You need to open ruble accounts in Russian banks. And from these accounts they have to pay for the delivered gas‘ the Russian President said.

What Poland and Bulgaria have not planned. On Tuesday evening, the governments of the two countries announced that they had received a notice from Gazprom to halt gas supplies because they are refusing to comply with Moscow’s demands. The situation was confirmed by the Russian giant in a press release stating that the sanction will be effective “until payment is made” in rubles. The sanction came into force on Wednesday.

“We will not give in to such a thug”

Bulgaria, which is dependent on Russian gas, has a “unacceptable blackmail” and a “serious breach of contractt” passed with Gazprom. “We will not give in to such noise“, he said, adding that the country already “prepared for such a scenario“. The same story on the Polish side. It is also blackmail for Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, constituent “a direct attack“Against Poland, but also against”the energy security of all of Europe, the food security of all of Europe

Why attack these two countries? Poland is one of the most vocal NATO countries against Moscow. The country is the first to push to supply arms to Ukraine. At the beginning of March there was even talk of giving away their MiG-29 fighter jets free of charge to the Americans, who had refused to formally involve NATO in the war with this gesture out of fear. Poland today sends heavy weapons and serves primarily as a logistics platform to ensure the delivery of all Western equipment to the Ukrainians.

Bulgaria is one of Kiev’s most important arms suppliers. It manufactures many small arms and ammunition, which it supplies “covertly” – via third countries or opaque intermediaries. According to the Bulgarian press, Bulgaria has been exporting since the beginning of the war “Three times more guns and ammunition” than in the same period last year. The government even signed a treaty with Britain to “destruction and recycling“guns that”in all respects correspond to the needs of the Ukrainian army and actually ended up in Kyiv“.

Coordinated European Response

But the two countries, which want to get supplies from other sources, don’t want to stop there. The Polish company PGNiG, faced with “a breach of contract“reserves”the right to redress“. On the Bulgarian side there is a threat to review the contract with Gazprom, which affects gas transit on its territory to other countries, such as Hungary. Everyone can count on the European Union, which is a “coordinated European response“In the words of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.”Europeans can rest assured that we are united and in solidarity with the Member States concerned‘ she explains on Twitter.

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