Putin to Scholz: Gas for rubles will not hurt Europe's contracts
Germany has sounded the alarm amid fears that Moscow might cut off gas from Europe if Western countries refuse to pay in rubles.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that Russia's recent demand to switch Russian gas payments to rubles does not mean that contracts will be on worse terms.
Last week, Putin announced that Moscow will now only accept payment in rubles for "unfriendly countries", including the European Union.
"The decision taken should not lead to worsening of contractual terms for European importer companies of Russian gas," the Kremlin stated, summarizing Putin's conversation with Scholz.
Putin stressed that the decision was necessary because the currency reserves of the Russian central bank have been frozen by the European Union.
Read more: Poland eyes ending Russian oil imports, Germany warns on gas
Furthermore, the Kremlin said that experts from each country will hold discussions on the matter.
The statement released by the Kremlin came after Berlin raised the alarm amid fears that Moscow might cut off gas from Europe if Western countries refuse to pay in rubles.
Germany's Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck said Monday as he spoke on the behalf of G7 energy ministers that Russia's request was a "unilateral and clear breach of the existing agreements."
Habeck stressed that payments in rubles were "unacceptable" and demanded energy companies not to attend to the demand.
Read more: Germany refusing Russian energy to lead to inflation increase by 2.3%
On Wednesday, the Kremlin said that Moscow will not immediately require customers to pay in rubles.
"Payments and deliveries are a time-consuming process," Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "It's not like... what will be delivered tomorrow, must be paid for by the evening."
Russia: No rubles, no gas
Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov had said during a briefing in Moscow that Russia will not deliver gas to Europe for free.
When asked what Russia would do if Europe refused to pay for Russian gas in rubles, Peskov said that those issues would be resolved as they come.
"The delivery process is very, very complicated, it's not buying some product in a store -- you buy and pay at the checkout. These are deliveries, payments, and balance sheets, these are time-stretched processes," he said, pointing out that "now all the modalities are being worked out between the departments, with Gazprom."
However, Peskov stressed that gas will not be supplied for free to Europe.
"This can be said with absolute certainty. In our situation, it is hardly possible and hardly advisable to engage in pan-European charity," he said.
The Russian President had said on March 23 his country would stop taking payments in currencies that have been "compromised", though he did note that Russia would continue supplying gas in the volumes fixed in earlier contracts.