G7 call on gas importers not to comply with Russian rouble demands
Clean Energy Wire
After a meeting with his G7 counterparts, German economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said on Monday (28 March) that Putin's demand to only receive payment for gas deliveries to Europe in roubles was a breach of contract and therefore unacceptable. G7 ministers are calling on the companies concerned to not comply with Moscow's demand, he said. "Putin's attempt to divide us is obvious, but our great unity and determination shows that we will not be divided," Habeck said, adding that Germany’s approach of gradually becoming independent of Russian fossil fuel imports is accepted by G7 partners.
At the same time, European leaders will not immediately pursue a fossil fuel embargo against Russia, the outcome of a summit concluding late last Friday shows. In their summit declaration, they said that the European Commission should present by the end of May a plan on how to cut energy dependency on Russia as soon as possible. After Russian President Vladimir Putin's announced last week to only accept payments in roubles from “unfriendly countries”, a gas delivery stop again seemed within touching distance. On Sunday evening (27 March), German chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated on public television that a full energy embargo on Russia would risk “an incredible number of jobs” and would trigger “a considerable economic crisis”.
After the EU summit, Scholz also remained critical of a proposal for energy price caps, pursued in particular by southern European countries, saying that "Germany and many other countries are very sceptical when it comes to market interventions”, citing the danger that there would be no lasting relief for consumers but a negative effect on supplies.
The German chancellor supported a proposal for voluntary common gas and hydrogen purchases by EU countries but added that the particularities of this would not be easy “because there are a lot of private sector actors who are doing this business all over Europe today and will continue to do so in the future”.
Greenpeace Germany criticised that Scholz and the EU had decided against an energy embargo on Russia “out of consideration for the French election”. EU member states thereby missed the chance to reduce consumption of oil, coal and gas and cut dependence on Putin, delaying the decision to phase out fossil fuels and end the war against the people of Ukraine.