Russia will halt natural gas flows to Poland on Wednesday in an escalation in the standoff between Moscow and Europe over energy supplies and the war in Ukraine, according to news reports Tuesday.
Russian energy giant Gazprom
told Poland’s PGNiG, the country’s main natural gas supplier, it will halt gas supplies along the Yamal pipeline from Wednesday morning, PGNiG said in a statement Tuesday, although the Polish government said it had sufficient reserves, Reuters reported.
Russian gas giant Gazprom issued a warning that Poland must pay up for its gas supplies on Tuesday — in the Russian currency, Bloomerg reported.
Earlier, data from the European Union network of gas transmission operators showed physical gas flows via the Yamal-Europe pipeline from Belarus to Poland had halted, but they resumed later on Tuesday.
However, Poland’s energy supplies are secure, Poland’s climate ministry said on Tuesday, adding that there was no need to draw from gas reserves and that gas to consumers would not be cut.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that countries he terms “unfriendly” following his invasion of Ukraine agree to implement a scheme under which they would open accounts at Gazprombank and make payments for Russian gas imports in euros or dollars that would be converted into rubles.
Gazprom said on Tuesday that Poland would need to begin making payments under a new scheme as of Tuesday.
Late April and May is when the payments for April gas supplies fall due — the first batch for which the new terms apply — and European officials and executives are in many cases still trying to figure out how best to respond. Europe is very dependent on Russian gas, and has so far mostly shielded energy from sanctions.
Poland, whose gas deal with Russia expires at the end of this year, has repeatedly said it would not comply with the new scheme of gas payments. It has also said it would not extend the contract.
“I can confirm we’ve received such threats from Gazprom which are linked among other things to the means of payment,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters in Berlin. “Poland is sticking to the arrangements and maybe Russia will try to punish Poland” by cutting deliveries.
Poland’s contract with Gazprom is for 10.2 billion cubic meters per year, and covers about 50% of national consumption.
European gas prices surged as much as 17% as traders calculated the risk of other European countries being hit next.
Earlier Tuesday, Poland announced a list of 50 Russian oligarchs and companies, including Gazprom, that would be subject to sanctions under a law passed earlier this month allowing their assets to be frozen. The law is separate from sanctions imposed jointly by EU countries.