What will be the consequences of Moscow's gas decree?

Russia has passed a decree stipulating that in future purchases of Russian gas must be paid for in roubles through an account at Gazprombank. The decree takes effect this Friday. Moscow's demand has been categorically rejected by important customers such as Germany and France. Europe's press takes very different views on who will suffer most as a result of the decree.

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taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

The Kremlin doesn't need euros for its war

In case of doubt the EU should also pay in roubles, the taz recommends:

“Europe needs Russian energy; in Germany it accounts for 50 percent of imports. By contrast, Putin doesn't need Western foreign currency to wage his war, because Russia is self-sufficient for food, energy and weapons. ... It would be a propaganda success for the Russian president if roubles were rolling in from the West - but it wouldn't help him in the real war. His army is still too weak to occupy all of Ukraine. Moreover, the offensive remains so astronomically expensive that inflation in Russia is spiralling out of control. That won't change even if the West pays in roubles.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Europe must not allow itself to be blackmailed

If Europe buckles now it will be trapped, Lidové noviny warns:

“After taking a good look at the contracts, the Europeans have refused to pay in any currency other than euros or dollars. Even at the cost of giving up gas. Germany and France have even begun to prepare for supplies being cut off and a rationing system. If the Europeans went along with paying for gas in a currency other than that agreed in the contracts, it would mean that Putin could change the contracts from day to day, as he pleases. For example by reducing the supply volume or increasing the price. That would be worse for the economy than going without Russian gas altogether.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Own goal for the Russian economy

Russia will suffer most if Europe doesn't buy any more gas as a result of the decree, says the Financial Times:

“Russia would do immense damage to its economy if it cut off gas to Europe for any length of time. It could continue pumping gas into storage for a while but, with no other destination for gas from its western Siberian fields ... it would have to cap them. Analysts say gasfields would start to deteriorate, making them tricky and costly to restart. ... Russia's president may feel he has hit back at the west by forcing it to pay in roubles. But by in effect rewriting contracts he will have further damaged trust in Moscow as a supplier. Even if some sanctions are lifted as part of a peace deal in Ukraine, Europe's new determination to end its reliance on Moscow's gas will be here to stay.”

Deutsche Welle (BG) /

Putin making one mistake after another

Vladimir Putin has once again misjudged the situation, comments Deutsche Welle's Bulgarian service:

“Incidentally, the Kremlin ruler has made several miscalculations recently. He misjudged his chances when he invaded Ukraine, the strength of the Ukrainian army, the reaction of Ukrainian society, the cohesion of the West, the brutality of the sanctions and how many Western companies would pull out from Russian markets. Now Putin has made another mistake by underestimating the willingness of major Western nations to give up Russian gas even if it causes them significant economic losses.”

Wedomosti (RU) /

Gas supplies and faces will be saved

Business newspaper Vedomosti predicts that companies will prevail with their demands on Western politicians:

“In the short term, the Europeans have no leeway that would allow them to dispense with Russian gas. The proposed alternatives to Russian supplies are not viable because they don't provide sufficient quantities. So it's likely that European businesses will propose options for meeting Russian demands to politicians in the next few days, and that EU diplomats will formulate them into a mutually acceptable solution that allows everyone to save face. It's likely to involve the creation of a mediation structure that converts euros and dollars into roubles.”