Some of Europe’s largest energy firms are planning to use a new payment system for Russian gas supplies demanded by the Kremlin, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.
Sources told the newspaper that gas distributors in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia aim to open ruble accounts at Gazprombank in Switzerland. They said that negotiations between European buyers and Russian gas supplier Gazprom have intensified as payment deadlines approach.
Under the new mechanism, European companies would continue to pay Gazprombank for their imports in euro in order not to breach the sanctions regime. The Russian bank, which is not under EU sanctions, would then, at their request, convert euro-denominated deposits into rubles in a second account opened in their name, for onward payment to the Russian gas provider.
“We consider that the amendment of the payment process complies with the sanctions law and so the payments are possible,” said chief financial officer of Germany’s Uniper Tiina Tuomela.