The Russian and German leaders agreed to hold additional expert talks on gas payments after a phone conversation on Wednesday, according to the Kremlin.
Germany is Russia’s biggest gas buyer and was the first to worry about Moscow’s demand that European buyers start paying for Russian gas in roubles.
Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that this decision was due “to the freezing of the Bank of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves by members of the European Union in violation of the norms of international law”, but “should not lead to an aggravation of the contractual conditions”. for European importers of Russian gas,” the Kremlin said.
The Russian president told Scholz that the country was enacting a law that gas deliveries had to be paid for in rubles, but stressed that “for European counterparties, nothing would change,” according to a German government statement.
“Payments would continue to be denominated in euros and, as usual, to be made to Gazprom Bank, which is not subject to the sanctions,” the statement said. The bank would then convert the money into rubles.
“Chancellor Scholz did not agree to this procedure in the conversation but requested written information to be able to better understand the procedure.”
Putin also explained the ruble switch to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and provided an update on recent peace talks between Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul, the Kremlin said.
Putin announced last week that Russia would require gas buyers from Gazprom in “unfriendly” countries – mainly the EU – to pay for it in rubles rather than euros and dollars as before. He did not specify the timetable for the decision to come into force, but tasked Gazprom, the government and the central bank with proposing a mechanism by Thursday.
The move follows the EU sanctioning Russia’s central bank, essentially freezing half of Russia’s foreign currency reserves.