Russian gas buyers must pay in rubles or face being cut off from supplies, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday in imposing a deadline for such action.
“If unfriendly countries do not pay in rubles from April 1, we will consider this a default on gas contracts, in which case existing contracts will be stopped,” Putin said in televised remarks Thursday, according to various news outlets including RT News and state-owned news agency RIA Novosti.
“Unfriendly countries” refers to those that have imposed sanctions on Russia after it launched a war against Ukraine in late February.
Putin made the remarks after signing a decree that said contracts will be halted if buyers don’t open ruble accounts in Russian banks, along with meeting other conditions, according to the Associated Press.
The decree said a designated bank will open two accounts for each buyer, one in foreign currency and one in rubles, the AP reported. Buyers would pay in foreign currency and authorize the bank to sell that currency for rubles. The rubles would be placed in the second account, where the gas would be purchased.
The decree comes a day after Italian and German leaders reportedly said Putin assured them they would be allowed to buy gas using euros. Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday said he didn’t anticipate Russia cutting off its gas supplies, Reuters reported.
Putin last week said he would demand “unfriendly countries” make gas payments in rubles, and gave the country’s central bank and government officials a week to work out a plan.