This should be a final warning to Europe. This is the first time since the beginning of the war that Vladimir Putin has faced opposition within the Kremlin. Or at least, in front of someone who said that what he was trying to do would not work. In the end, the Russian dictator had to set aside time for today’s deadline, as he himself pointed out: Union governments could not block the supply of gas to Europe if they repeatedly refused to do so. To pay in rubles.
On March 23, Putin himself noted that Europeans were facing a tight deadline: his government would have a week to come up with a solution to the monetary gas bill. Gazprom, the national energy company, had the same period to change contracts with companies in countries defined by Putin as anti-EU. It was like a final warning. Two days ago, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tried to give the impression that Europeans would have been pushed into a corner from tomorrow if they had not bent down to pay in rubles. Everything seemed so credible that the price of gas and the Russian currency went up after Putin’s threat.
Rather it is not. Peskov was forced to admit yesterday, just hours after the alleged final warning, that Gazprom was not prepared to cut supplies anyway. This process takes time from a technical point of view, his version. Putin faced problems of a political nature in all capitals: Berlin, Paris and Rome, making it clear that national institutions or governments would not perish; And in Moscow, someone told the dictator that he was going the wrong way in claiming the ruble. According to several sources, two of Putin’s closest associates did so. Two of those who do not come from defense equipment and are under the age of seventy: Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak (51, an industrial economist, former energy minister) and Elvira Nabiullina (58), the governor of the central bank that Bloomberg revealed a few days ago that Putin had recently stopped trying to resign. Nabiulina and Novak should have submitted to the dictator today the report on the change in payment in rubles. But the two made it clear to him that the idea of forcing Europeans to support the Russian currency would not stop. In international markets today, the ruble is not technically available. There is no such possibility in contracts that are legally in force. More politically, the plan clashed with the rejection of Europeans – including Germany – and the G7. At the time, if Russia had actually banned goods that the EU pays about 800 million euros a day in retaliation today, another technical problem would have arisen: if Gosprom had stopped extracting gas, the fields would have been damaged. , Then there will be nothing but the burning of its production, which will in fact smoke Russia’s greatest resource. So, yesterday afternoon Putin tried to cover up the setback by calling on the Prime Ministers of Italy and Germany Mario Draghi and Olaf Scholes. After all, they are the largest consumers of Russian gas in the world. The Kremlin man explained to both that the ruble project would begin tomorrow. But in fact Europeans may have continued to pay in euros and Gazprombank – exempt from sanctions – may have later converted the currency into Russian currency. In fact, this is already happening today, with the ruble – after a 42% fall in two weeks – already returning to pre-European sanctions on Moscow’s foreign exchange reserves.
Draghi, however, was dry with Putin: we will only do what is in line with the agreements in force, he told him (and the agreements exclude payments in rubles). As for Scholes, he was equally adamant and asked the Russian leader to explain in writing. Europe’s determination has exposed the weakness of the balance, including finance, in Moscow. In the capitals of the Union, it is now impossible for anyone to escape when Russia’s gas, oil and coal are now deciding what to really do.
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