Macron hits back at Putin’s recent ruble demand – ‘texts show its forbidden’

Ukraine MP on Germany financing Russian gas sales

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With the invasion of Ukraine now entering its fourth week, punitive economic measures against Russia have seen foreign currency reserves plummet in Moscow, causing Putin to take drastic measures. With Europe relying on as much as 40 percent of its gas from Russia, Putin demanded any hostile nations towards Moscow cough up payments in rubles to compensate sanctions.

However, Mr Macron has hit back at the demands during a news conference in Brussels by saying: “texts show it is forbidden” to pay in rubles.

He added: “This request does not comply with what has been signed. I do not see why we would apply it”

Mr Macron is reported to have believed Moscow was seeking, with this requirement, “a circumvention mechanism” of the economic and financial sanctions decided by the Europeans following the invasion of Ukraine.

All original contracts between Russia and European customers stipulate payments are to be made in euros.

Russia has repeatedly stated it will honour contractual obligations to supply Europe with set quotas of gas.

The ongoing energy crisis has seen western nations divided in opinion when it comes to sanctioning Russian energy as demand outweighs supply as European economies recover from the impact of the Covid pandemic.

Recent deals with US has seen agreements between the pair to supply gas, but without an existing infrastructure in place to supply the amounts of gas Russia readily supplies, it will be a long time before any benefit is felt from American supplies.

Other nations such as Iran and Qatar have offered to supply gas to Europe, but also face both logistical and infrastructural challenges preventing the supply.

Furthermore, Iran is also under strict economic sanction rules making payment for any gas received impossible at this stage.

In an attempt to further alienate Russia from economic and financial gain from gas supplies, US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have agreed to import 15 billion cubic meters of LNG to Europe.

Speaking of the agreement on Friday, Mr Biden said: “It’s going to take some time to adjust gas supply change in structure, as a built for the last decade.

“So we’re going to have to make sure families in Europe can get through this winter and the next, while we’re building an infrastructure for a diversified, resilient, and clean energy future.

“At the same time, this crisis also presents an opportunity.”

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A senior US Government official told reporters on a briefing call the goal of the arrangement was “reducing energy dependence on Russia and removing it altogether before the end of this decade” for Europe.

Ms von der Leyen, said: “This amount is replacing one-third already of the Russian gas going to Europe today.

“So we are right on track now to diversify away from Russian gas and towards our friends and partners, reliable and trustworthy suppliers.”

Mr Biden said such a step was not only “the right thing to do from a moral standpoint” but was “going to put us on a stronger strategic footing”.

Asked how the US would increase its supply of LNG, given producers are already running at full steam, a senior White House official said the plan would involve “swaps” with international partners, particularly in Asia, to free up gas during Europe’s winter.

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With the ongoing war in Ukraine causing huge humanitarian and financial destruction, Mr Macron said he will call Putin before Monday to discuss a humanitarian evacuation from Mariupol.

The operation will be coordinated with the governments of Turkey and Greece.

Speaking of the haste, Mr Macron said: “The sooner, the better,” adding he expects the evacuation to start in coming days.

So far, over 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced since the start of the invasion.

Several million people have fled to Europe, with Poland, Moldova and Romania seeing the majority of Ukrainian refugees seek shelter.

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