Poland, Bulgaria condemn Russian fuel “blackmail”

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WARSAW, POLAND (AP) – Leaders of Poland and Bulgaria have accused Moscow of utilizing pure fuel to blackmail their international locations after the state-controlled Russian vitality firm abruptly introduced it could cease supplying two European international locations on Wednesday.

The fuel shutdown got here after Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned “unfriendly” international locations must begin paying for fuel in rubles, the Russian forex, which Bulgaria and Poland refused to do.

Polish Prime Minister Mataus Morawiecki informed the Polish parliament on Wednesday that he believes the motion is revenge for brand spanking new sanctions in opposition to Russia imposed by Warsaw on the struggle in Ukraine.

Morawiecki swore that Poland wouldn’t fall from the minimize. He mentioned the nation is secure from an vitality disaster due to years of efforts to safe fuel from different international locations.

Lawmakers stood and applauded when he mentioned Russia’s “fuel extortion” would don’t have any impact on Poland.

The brand new sanctions, introduced Tuesday, focused 50 Russian oligarchs and firms, together with vitality big Gazprom. Hours later, Poland mentioned it had acquired a message that Gazprom was chopping off its fuel provide resulting from non-compliance with the demand to pay in Russian rubles.

Poland’s fuel firm, PGNiG, mentioned fuel provides from the Yamel pipeline have been minimize off early Wednesday, as Gazprom warned.

Bulgaria mentioned on Tuesday that it had additionally been knowledgeable by Gazprom that the nation’s fuel provide would finish on the similar time, however officers in Sofia mentioned Wednesday morning that they have been nonetheless seeing fuel coming.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kirill Petkov known as the suspension of fuel provides by Gazprom to his nation a “blatant breach of their contract” and “extortion”.

“We is not going to give in to such a bat,” he added.

Russia’s transfer has raised wider issues that different international locations could also be focused subsequent, as Western international locations improve their help for Ukraine amid a struggle now in its third month.

EU officers held emergency talks on Wednesday. European Fee President Ursula von der Lane mentioned the Gazprom announcement was “one other try by Russia to make use of fuel as an extortion system”.

The Greek authorities was scheduled to carry its personal emergency assembly in Athens. Greece’s subsequent scheduled fee for Gazprom is due on Could 25, and the federal government should resolve whether or not to satisfy the demand to finish the deal in rubles.

Greece is rising its liquefied fuel storage capability, and has contingency plans to maneuver numerous industrial sectors from fuel to diesel as an emergency vitality supply. It has additionally made a plan to cut back native coal manufacturing over the following two years.

Russian fuel accounted for about 45% of Poland’s whole fuel consumption till the break. However Poland depends way more on coal for heating properties and the gasoline trade, with fuel accounting for about 7% of the nation’s whole vitality combine.

Russian provides to Poland have been already anticipated to finish later this 12 months anyway. Poland has labored for a few years to make sure provides from different international locations.

A couple of years in the past the nation opened its first liquefied pure fuel terminal, or LNG, at Swinoujscie, on the Baltic coast. A pipeline from Norway is about to begin working this 12 months.

Bulgaria’s vitality minister mentioned his nation might meet the wants of customers for a minimum of one month.

Power Minister Alexander Nikolov Nikolov mentioned that “there are different provides, and Bulgaria hopes that different routes and provides may even be assured at EU stage.

Fatih Birol, head of the Worldwide Power Company in Paris, described Russia’s transfer as a “weapon of vitality provide”.

He mentioned Russia’s choice “makes it clearer than ever that Europe wants to maneuver shortly to cut back its dependence on Russian vitality”.

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Comply with the AP’s protection of the struggle in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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