Polish PM criticises EU for leniency towards paying in rubles for Russian gas

Poland belongs to those countries that demand radical sanctions against Russia, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said during a press conference in Ostrów Wielkopolski on Sunday. He spoke about stopping the war via economic measures and expressed disappointment in the EU member states which were planning to pay for Russian gas in rubles.

We want to remain united, so we are using two instruments: the unity of the European Union and the most severe sanctions against Russia possible,” he added.

The Polish Prime Minister emphasised that while the sanctions would cost Europe a lot, they would be crucial for ending the war quickly.

“There is some leniency for gas payment in rubles,” Mr Morawiecki said, referring to the fact that several EU member states were willing to give in and make payments in the Russian currency. “We are firmly against it. Let’s cut off the Russian hydrocarbons as quickly as possible,” he stressed.

The payments in rubles were the subject of the emergency meeting of the experts of the European Commission on Friday evening. Putin’s recent decree demands that companies purchasing Russian gas open accounts in Gazprombank and make payments in rubles. Poland and Bulgaria, which refused to do so, have been cut off from Russian gas supplies. During the meeting, the European Commission did not condemn payments in rubles or say those were against the sanctions. In fact, the Commission said that opening accounts in Gazprombank in euros or dollars was not a breach of sanctions if the companies were paying for gas in the currency specified in their contracts.

Several EU diplomats told Beata Płomecka, Polskie Radio correspondent in Brussels, that some experts were surprised and appalled by the proposal of the Commission, which responded to their questions regarding currency conversion by stating that Gazprombank’s transactions between accounts were not instances of circumventing or breaching the sanctions. The diplomats and officials interviewed by the Polish correspondent suggested corruption and lobbying was involved, and suspected that this was an attempt by Russian firms to do business with EU companies despite the ongoing situation.

The matter will be discussed further during a meeting of ambassadors of the EU member states next week.