Russia has shut off the gas valves to Poland and Bulgaria following their refusal to pay for the resource in rubles. Russia made the move to demand payment for its natural resources in its local currency following sanctions by the European Union and other NATO states.
“The announcement by Gazprom that it is unilaterally stopping delivery of gas to customers in Europe is yet another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “This is unjustified and unacceptable. And it shows once again the unreliability of Russia as a gas supplier.”
Russian state-owned gas corporation, Gazprom, announced on Wednesday that it had turned off access due to unpaid bills from April after the two countries refused to pay in rubles.
According to the Associated Press, the Paris-based International Energy Agency called it a “weaponization of energy supplies,” noting that prices for natural gas in Europe have surged by up to 25%.
The Gazprom situation has European leaders concerned over the shutoff, with Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov expressing his concern with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, calling for the swift completion of the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria pipeline.
Poland Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that the move was an act of revenge for the country’s support of Ukraine. In a Twitter post, Morawiecki said that he spoke with his German counterpart Olaf Scholz “about an urgent delivery of arms to [Ukraine] and reliance on [Russian] gas and oil. Short term it will be difficult to wean Europe off them, but long term it will serve peace. Europe cannot afford to live in constant danger from [Russian] aggression.”
As detailed by the Associated Press, Poland has served as a relay for the delivery of weapons from the West to Ukraine, and confirmed earlier this week that it was sending tanks to Ukraine.
Bulgaria, meanwhile, elected a new liberal government late last year, which severed ties to Russia and has also supported aggressive action to punish Russia for the “special military operation” in Ukraine. The country also hosts western fighter jets at a new NATO base on the Black Sea coast.