The Kremlin has said that London’s sanctions of Moscow’s Gazprombank, through which payments are to be made under Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rubles-for-gas scheme, mean that Great Britain won’t be able to buy Russian gas.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Russian state-backed news agency Tass on Saturday that British sanctions against Gazprombank mean that the UK faces the prospect of being cut off from Russian gas supplies.
“London wants to be the leader of everything anti-Russian. It even wants to be ahead of Washington! That’s the cost!” Peskov said, according to an RT translation of his remarks.
The Epoch Times has reached out to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office with a request for comment.
As part of a recent wave of sanctions against Russia, the UK added Gazprombank to its sanctions list (pdf) in late March, with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss saying at the time that there would be “no let-up” in measures to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
“Putin should be under no illusions—we are united with our allies and will keep tightening the screw on the Russian economy to help ensure he fails in Ukraine,” Truss said on March 24.
Gazprombank has been a key channel for payments for Russian energy, made all the more critical due to Putin’s rubles-for-gas scheme.
Under a decree signed by Putin on Thursday, European buyers of Russian gas must open an account at Gazprombank and make payments in euros or dollars, which the bank will then convert into rubles and settle the transactions in line with Putin’s order.
Putin stipulated an April 1 deadline for the start of the rubles-for-gas arrangement, though Peskov said Friday that payment for deliveries of gas wouldn’t be due until mid April or early May.
Peskov’s remarks eased fears that Russia might immediately cut off energy supplies to any buyer that did not pay in rubles.
Multiple European buyers of Russian energy have so far refused to pay in the Russian currency, saying that Putin’s rubles-for-gas demand breaches existing contracts.
Governments in Europe, which relies on Russia for more than a third of its gas, are in discussions with their energy companies about how to settle the transactions and are looking to come up with a common approach.
British imports of Russian gas account for less than 4 percent and Russian oil for 8 percent of Britain’s total supply, according to UK government data.
UK authorities have said they plan to phase out Russian oil imports completely by the end of the year and are working to end the UK’s dependence on Russian hydrocarbons entirely “in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine.”
Russia says it’s engaged in a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbor and topple its government, which it describes as “neo-Nazis.”
Putin has said Russia’s military actions in Ukraine were also motivated by what he described as “genocide” against ethnic Russians living in Donbass, the location of the separatist-controlled so-called “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk.
A long list of historians and academics said in an open letter published in the Jewish Journal that Putin’s characterization of Kyiv as a “pro-Nazi” regime and his claims of “genocide” in Donbass are false and a “cynical abuse” of terms meant to justify “unprovoked aggression” against Ukraine.
“This rhetoric is factually wrong, morally repugnant, and deeply offensive to the memory of millions of victims of Nazism and those who courageously fought against it, including Russian and Ukrainian soldiers of the Red Army,” the scholars wrote.
Ukraine and its Western allies describe the Kremlin’s actions as an unprovoked, unjustified, and illegal war of aggression.
The conflict has driven millions from their homes and killed thousands, according to the United Nations.