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France prepares for the possibility of no more Russian gas

“It’s important for us not to signal that we’re going to be blackmailed,” he said. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck confirmed, adding that Berlin was prepared for any eventuality, including stopping the flow of Russian gas to Europe.

Meanwhile, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that both France and Germany rejected the request from the Russian side and were “preparing” a scenario where Russia would stop deliveries.

Le Maire emphasized that the two countries are also preparing for the possibility that “there is no longer any Russian gas”.

These statements come not long after President Putin announced that he had signed a decree requiring foreign buyers to pay in rupees for the purchase of Russian gas from April 1.

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Russia requires foreign buyers to pay in rubles to buy gas. (Photo: Reuters)

“To buy Russian natural gas, the buyer must open an account in rubles in Russian banks. From these accounts, payments will be made to buy gas starting tomorrow ( 1/4)”, Putin said.

According to the decree, all payments will be handled by Gazprombank, a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned oil company Gazprom. The buyer will transfer the payments to Gazprombank account in foreign currency, which will then be converted into rupees and transferred to the buyer’s rupee account.

European countries import about 40% of their gas from Russia and pay mostly in euros. Gazprom said the euro accounts for 58 percent of its export transactions, the dollar for 39 percent and the pound for about three percent.

The United States and Western countries have increased sanctions against Russia since Moscow began its military campaign in Ukraine, including freezing its $300 billion foreign currency reserves.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Putin’s demand for payment in rubles was a sign of Moscow’s economic and financial “desperation” caused by Western sanctions.

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