France's Macron: no reason to accept Russia demands for gas payments in roubles

Russia's demands have raised concerns of an energy supply squeeze and even higher prices

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to the media after the EU leaders' summit. Reuters
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French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday there was no reason to accept a demand from Russia to pay in roubles for Russian gas.

“All the texts that have been signed are clear: this is forbidden,” Mr Macron told a news conference after a European Union summit in Brussels.

“European firms that buy gas and which are operating on European territory have to do so in euros. Therefore it is not possible today to do what is being demanded — it is not contractual,” added Mr Macron, referring to the Russian demand to be paid in roubles.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had said this week that Russia will seek payment in roubles for gas sold to “unfriendly” countries, raising alarm about a possible energy crunch in Europe.

He said he did not believe that Russia wanted to break its contracts, but if that was the case, then Moscow should say so explicitly.

“The objective of this announcement, I think, is to find a way around sanctions, but it does not respect what was signed, so why should we apply it?” he asked.

To counter a possible energy squeeze, the US and the EU said on Friday that Washington will work to supply 15 billion cubic metres of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the bloc this year to help wean it off Russian energy supplies.

The EU is aiming to cut its dependency on Russian gas by two thirds this year and end all Russian fossil fuel imports by 2027 due to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Russia supplies about 40 per cent of Europe's gas needs.

Updated: June 21, 2023, 7:24 AM