Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed the government, the Central Bank and Gazprom to take measures to change the currency of payment for gas to rubles for “unfriendly” countries by March 31, the Russian Sputnik news agency reported, on Monday.
Putin announced earlier that the dollar has become an “unsecured” currency, and that Russia will not use the currencies of “unfriendly” countries for gas payments, against the backdrop of sanctions imposed on his country due to its ongoing military operation in Ukraine.
On the other hand, he said Russian gas giant Gazprom Today, the company continues to ship gas to Europe via Ukraine, with a volume of 109.5 million cubic meters.
On Friday, the Kremlin confirmed that the Russian president had ordered Gazprom to accept payments for its natural gas exports in rubles, noting that it must determine how to do so within the next four days.
Russia is trying by all means to ease the impact of Western sanctions on its economy, as the oil and gas sector is the economic artery that has been excluded from European sanctions so far.
From this sector, Putin wanted to support his country’s economy and currency by forcing countries classified as “unfriendly” to pay for Russian gas in rubles.
The move could oblige Western countries, which have not stopped buying Russian gas, to deal with the sanctioned Russian Central Bank to get the ruble.
70% of Russian oil and gas revenues come from countries that have been classified as “unfriendly”. According to “Gazprom”, 58% of natural gas sales are settled in euros, and 39% are made in dollars.
French President Emmanuel Macron had considered that asking his Russian counterpart to pay for gas shipments to the European Union in rubles, not in dollars or euros, was “not possible” and “not provided for in the contracts.”