Russia stops gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria

Gazprom, a Russian energy company, said Wednesday that it had stopped gas supplies to Bulgarian and Polish gas stations because they failed to pay gas in roubles. This is the Kremlin’s most severe retaliation to international sanctions for the war in Ukraine.

Poland confirmed that supplies were cut while Bulgaria claimed it would soon find out. Both accused Gazprom of violating long-standing supply agreements.

Alexander Nikolov, Bulgaria’s Energy Minister, stated that natural gas was being used in war more for political and economic purposes because all legal and trade obligations have been observed.

Gazprom stated in a statement that it had “completely suspended gas supply to Bulgargaz (PGN.WA ) due lack of payments in rubles”, referring to the Polish or Bulgarian gas companies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded gas buyers from “unfriendly countries” pay in roubles for their gas, or they would be cut off starting with the April payment due date. This demand was rejected by the European Union as it was rewriting contracts that required payment in euros.

The Yamal-Europe pipeline, which connects Poland to Russia’s vast Arctic gas fields in Russia’s Arctic far north, supplies Russian gas to Poland. It also continues west to supply Germany as well as other European countries. The pipes that supply Bulgaria are located in Turkey.

Polish state-owned PGNiG confirmed that Gazprom supplies had been reduced, but stated it would still supply its clients as required.

The company stated that cutting gas supplies was a breach of contract. PGNiG reserves all rights to seek compensation and will make use of all legal and contractual means to obtain it.

Gazprom (GAZP.MM) supplies about half of Poland’s gas consumption and almost 90% of Bulgaria’s. Poland claimed it didn’t need to draw from reserves, and that its gas storage was 76% full. Bulgaria said that it is currently in negotiations to try to import liquefied gas through Turkey or Greece.

Russia’s energy exports have been largely unaffected since the war started. This is the largest loophole in the sanctions that would otherwise shut down much of Moscow’s trade with the West.

Kyiv called for Europe to end funding Moscow’s war efforts by cutting off energy imports, which bring Russia hundreds of million dollars per day.

Germany is the largest buyer of Russian energy and has stated this week that it plans to end its imports of Russian oil within days. It would be far more difficult to wean Europe from cheap, abundant Russian natural gas. This fuels its homes, factories, and electric power plants.

Andriy Yermak was the chief of staff for Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zilenskiy. He said that Russia was “beginning to gas blackmail Europe”.

Yermak stated that Russia is trying to destroy the unity of our allies.

Moscow has refocused its operations on eastern Ukraine since the Russian invasion force was defeated at the outskirts of Kyiv last month. It started a new offensive from many directions in an attempt to capture the two Donbas provinces.

The general staff of Ukraine acknowledged that Russia had made advances in several areas of the east. Russia captured the outskirts the towns of VelykaKomyshuvakha, Zavody, and Zavody on the other front. They also captured the Zarichne settlements and Novoshtokivske settlements within the Donetsk region.

Russia’s defense ministry claimed that its missiles had hit an arms depot in Zaporizhzhia, which houses weapons from the United States of America and other European countries.

A representative of Mariupol’s mayor said that Russian forces had relaunched their attack on the Azovstal Steel Plant, where some fighters and civilians are huddled up. According to Petro Andryushchenko, an aide, no agreements were reached regarding the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol.

Ukraine claimed it had attacked Snake Island in the Black Sea, an outpost that Russia seized early in the war. The defenders were heroes to Ukrainians because they refused to submit to a Russian request to surrender with obscenity.

Concern has grown about the possibility of the conflict expanding to neighbouring Moldova. In this small area occupied by Russian troops since the 1990s, pro-Russian separatists have reported numerous explosions in recent days.

The invasion of Ukraine left thousands injured or dead, reduced cities and towns to rubble and forced over 5 million people to flee to other countries.

The United States and its allies are increasingly supplying Ukraine with heavy weapons to aid in the war in the east. On Tuesday, more than 40 countries met at an American airbase in Germany to discuss Ukraine’s defense. Germany has delivered its first heavy weapon to Ukraine, including Gepard light tank tanks with anti-aircraft guns.

Authorities said that blasts were heard in three Russian provinces bordering Ukraine on Wednesday morning. An ammunition depot in Belgorod was also set ablaze. According to the regional governor, the fire near Staraya Nelidovka village was extinguished and no civilians were hurt.

Russia accused Ukraine this month of attacking a Belgorod fuel depot with helicopters and setting fire to several villages. Another large fire broke out at the nearby Bryansk fuel depot. The Russian authorities have not confirmed that Ukraine is responsible for any incidents reported on Ukrainian territory.

According to British military intelligence, Ukraine had retained control of most of its airspace and Russia had not succeeded in effectively destroying Ukraine’s air force and air defenses.

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