Italian Premier Mario Draghi says he has received assurances from the Russian leader that European companies will not have to pay for gas in rubles, as promised by Germany, and fears that Russia will cut off supplies.
ROME – Italian Premier Mario Draghi said on Thursday he had received assurances from Russia’s leader that Europe would not have to pay for its natural gas in rubles, as promised by Germany, and that fears were rife that Moscow would cut off supplies. Used for heating and electricity.
Draghi said Russian President Vladimir Putin had assured him during a 40-minute phone call on Wednesday evening that “existing agreements will remain in force. … European companies will continue to pay in dollars and euros.”
Putin announced last week that Russia would demand that “non-friendly” countries pay only for natural gas in Russian currency, instructing the central bank to create a mechanism for buyers to earn rubles in Russia. It has already sent higher gas prices higher amid fears that it could play a role in shutting down natural gas, which could hurt Europe’s economy and hurt Russia’s finances. Seven major economic groups, including Italy and Germany, have agreed to reject the claim.
The Italian leader has indicated that Russia still has a desire to pay in rubles, but that it could handle the currency conversion. Draghi said Putin had given a lengthy explanation of how the dollar should be maintained in the euro, while appeasing Russia’s “hint of a payment in rubles”.
Draghi said he had referred the matter to experts and that an analysis was under way to “understand what that means.”
“From the beginning, I felt that it was not easy to change the currency of payment without violating the agreement,” Draghi said.
German Chancellor Olaf Schulz received similar assurances from Putin on Wednesday evening. Scholz wanted to know more details about the process, which involves making payments to a non-sanctions Russian bank, his office said.
Italy’s Draghi also told the foreign press corps that Europe was pushing for a gas price ceiling with Russia, saying its payments were financing the war in Ukraine and that the price Europe was paying was not in line with world markets.
“We – other countries, including Germany and Italy, which are importers of gas, coal, grain, corn – are financing the war. There is no doubt,” Draghi said. There is no reason for the price of gas to be so high. “
Draghi noted that Russia has no other market for its gas, which gives Europe room for diplomacy. Asked about the risk that Russia would respond by shutting down the tap, Draghi said, “No, there is no danger.”
The possibility of continuing gas supplies in exchange for the euro has been given a cautious welcome by German industry.
“This is good news, at least in the short term, because Russian gas supplies cannot be replaced in the short term,” Achim Dereks, deputy managing director of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, told RBB24 Inforadio on Thursday.
He noted that companies would be particularly concerned about any cutoff industry, “but ultimately it will have serious economic implications for all of us.”