Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke by phone on Wednesday and agreed to hold talks on Berlin paying for Russian gas with rubles. According to Germany, Putin agreed that payments would continue for the moment in either dollars or euros, with the Kremlin stating that these payments would then be converted into Russian currency.
According to a readout published by the Kremlin, Putin explained to Scholz that Moscow is now demanding payment in rubles “due to the fact that, in violation of international law, the foreign exchange reserves of the Bank of Russia were frozen by the EU member states.” However, Putin told Scholz that the switchover would not result in worse contract conditions for German importers.
Germany relies on Russia for more than half of its gas supply, and for a third of its imported oil. Leaders in Berlin have been less enthusiastic about sanctioning Russian energy than some of their EU counterparts, with Scholz describing Russia’s energy as “essential” for the survival of Germany’s economy, and Economy Minister Robert Habeck urging citizens this week to reduce their consumption amid the growing likelihood of rationing.