EU issues guidelines for gas payments in rubles

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Companies could pay in euros or dollars through a Gazprombank account, Brussels says

EU companies may be able to work around Russia’s demand to receive gas payments in rubles without breaching sanctions, if they pay in euros or dollars which are then converted into the Russian currency, the European Commission (EC) said on Friday, according to Reuters.

In an advisory document sent to member states on Thursday, the Commission reportedly said that Moscow’s gas-for-rubles proposal does not necessarily prevent a payment process that would comply with EU sanctions against Russia.

The document said there were options that could allow companies to continue lawfully paying for gas. “EU companies can ask their Russian counterparts to fulfil their contractual obligations in the same manner as before the adoption of the decree, i.e. by depositing the due amount in euros or dollars.”

The procedure for securing exemptions from the requirements of the decree is not yet clear, it added.

The plan is identical to what the Russian government had suggested earlier this month.

Brussels also said that, before making payments, EU operators could make a clear statement that they consider their contractual obligations to be completed when they deposit euros or dollars with Gazprombank – as opposed to later, after the payment is converted into rubles.

According to the document, the sanctions regime does not prohibit companies from opening accounts with Gazprombank, or from engaging with the bank to attempt to seek a solution.

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