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Russian sanctions: German energy company accepts Russia’s ruble conversion plan

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The German energy company Uniper has admitted Russia’s demands and will use the ruble conversion plan outlined by Moscow, despite concerns that it will undermine the sanctions.

Moscow threatened to pull the plug on Europe’s gas supply unless the companies met their payments in rubles. The Kremlin worked with the Russian gas company Gazprombank to establish a system that would allow companies to deposit foreign currency into one account, while Gazprom would carry out the transactions in rubles.

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Uniper said on Thursday it had no choice but to use the system, and a spokesman told the BBC he was convinced the deal still complied with EU sanctions.

“For our company and for Germany as a whole, it is not possible to do without Russian gas in the short term; this would have dramatic consequences for our economy,” the spokesman said.

Other European energy companies have reportedly planned to follow suit and use the Russian scheme.

The European Commission last week informed companies that Moscow’s plan may not violate sanctions, stressing that compliance would probably be necessary to meet contractual obligations.

The commission initially said the program could break the sanctions, but this week stated that the proposal does not necessarily violate the sanctions, Reuters reported.

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“It would be advisable to seek confirmation from Russia that this procedure is possible under the rules of the decree,” said a Commission document, noting that companies should make clear statements that they consider contractual obligations to be fulfilled. , when they make their payments in the originally agreed currency, which almost all would be in dollars or euros.

Brussels also said there were options that could allow companies to continue to legally pay for gas, but the procedure for securing exemptions is not yet clear.

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Gazprom said on Wednesday that it had shut off gas to the two EU countries in retaliation for unpaid energy bills for the month of April, when they refused to comply with Moscow’s demands and pay in Russian currency.

“Gazprom’s announcement that it will unilaterally stop the supply of gas to customers in Europe is another attempt by Russia to use gas as an extortion tool,” EU President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.

“This is unjustified and unacceptable. And it shows once again Russia’s unreliability as a gas supplier,” she added.

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Von der Leyen said EU nations were “prepared for this scenario” and remained in close contact to identify other ways to supply Poland and Bulgaria with their energy needs.

Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.

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