The Group of Seven major economies collectively agreed to reject Moscow’s demand to pay for gas imports from Russia in rubles, and now Germans have been already advised to put on sweaters and set the temperature at home equal to the outside one.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has authorized the government, the central bank, and Gazprombank to take the necessary steps to switch all payments for Russian natural gas from “unfriendly states” to rubles starting March 31.
The decision to switch payments to its domestic currency has been made in response to the unprecedented penalties imposed by the US and its allies on the country’s financial system. Thus, the West has also blocked access to part of the gold and foreign exchange reserves. According to Russian Finance Minister, Anton Siluanov, we are talking about 300 billion dollars.
The measure targets “member states of the EU and other countries that have introduced restrictions against citizens of the Russian Federation and Russian legal entities,” the message of the President states. Since last week’s currency-switch announcement, the ruble has reached its strongest level against the US dollar and the euro in nearly a month.
The Group of Seven major economies have collectively agreed to reject Moscow’s demand to pay for gas imports from Russia in rubles, according to the German Energy Minister Robert Habeck.
“All G7 ministers agreed completely that this [would be] a one-sided and clear breach of the existing contracts,” Habeck claimed.
The Minister added that “payment in rubles is not acceptable” and that the nations will urge the companies affected “not to follow” the demand issued by the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia won’t back down
Despite the claims about the alleged violation of contracts by Russia (claims that sound ridiculous but expected, as Europe has quickly forgotten its own “contracts breaches” committed due to the sanctions imposed on Russia), the country’s government strictly adhere to the announced new rules and on Monday, March 28, President Putin has already ordered the government, the Central Bank, and Gazprombank to develop the necessary tools to switch all payments for Russian natural gas from “unfriendly states” to rubles from March 31, 2020.
The list of unfriendly countries, according to Interfax, includes: Austria, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
In addition, the Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia will stop shipping natural gas to countries that reject the demand.
Europe should prepare for cold times, authorities warn
So, as Baden-Württemberg Minister of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Peter Hauk, has backed a complete German ban on importing gas and oil from Russia, even though his country’s own citizens are already struggling with soaring energy prices that make it challenging for them to heat their homes, he also gave his compatriots “a piece of advice”.
“You can withstand 15 degrees [Celsius] in winter in a sweater. No one dies of it. But people are dying elsewhere,” Hauk said, referencing Ukraine’s conflict.
The statement elicited a strong response from the German Tenants’ Association, which retorted that it showed no understanding of the needs of the elderly or those working from home. The association also warned that lowering the room temperature could lead to people falling ill during the winter months.
“With a ministerial salary or a presidential pension, you can afford to explode energy costs and do not need to freeze yourself,” Stuttgart state chairman Rolf Gassmann said.
The association also reminded that, with regard to rented accommodation, German landlords have a legal obligation to ensure rooms can be heated to 22 degrees Celsius and to install proper ventilation to prevent moisture buildup and mold infestation.
“Support Russia, use gas more often!”
The issue raised big concerns of Europeans and provoked negative attitude towards the government that sacrifices people’s needs to harm Russia. Social media users from Italy organized a flash mob in support of Russia, as the Italian magazine The Post Internazionale reported.
Putin’s supporters in Italy are being asked to turn on the heating in the house to the maximum or cook using gas more often in order to consume as much gas as possible. Thus, they want to help Moscow with fuel sales.
— IlGenerale_9Z 🧱🍇 (@IlGenerale97) March 17, 2022
“It’s time guys, GO GO GO GO GO!”
Participants of the flash mob post pictures on Twitter and asked everybody to increase the thermostats.
“Even a small contribution can be important,” wrote one of the Italians.