Europe aware of Putin’s ‘meaningless’ gas threat says expert
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Russia was forced to drop its threat to immediately turn off its gas supply to Europe in an embarrassing climb down from the Kremlin. France24’s Nick Spicer remarked that many in Germany were left wondering whether the threat was just “an April Fools’ because it is not happening”. Many in the EU remain “puzzled” by the threat as experts claim such a move would hurt Russia as much as Europe.
Mr Spicer, reporting from Berlin, told France24 viewers: “If gas was meant to be cut off today, it’s been a bit of an April Fool’s because it is not happening.
“They are taking the threat seriously but I think the leaders of Germany, France and other European countries are aware that what Pain is threatening is somewhat meaningless.
“He had been insisting that European countries pay for Russian gas in rubles, and to open accounts in the Gazprom bank. It would maintain the exchange rate of the rouble.
“But the big objective is to make a show of standing up to the West.
“That is what Moscow wants to be showing to the people of Russia – that they are not taking the sanctions lying down.”
Russia was forced to drop its threat to immediately turn off its gas supply to Europe (Image: GETTY)
Experts claim such a move would hurt Russia as much as Europe (Image: GETTY)
He continued: “Experts say it would be a good way to shoot yourself in the foot.
“Since Putin’s war began, Germany has decided to cut off all use of Russian gas by mid-2024 and that is the thinking across Europe.
“If they were to turn off the taps, there would be gas supplies for a few months going and Russia needs to send that gas somewhere.
“If they turn off the gas, the gas reservoirs deteriorate. It’s not good for the gas fields. It would be a devastating decision for Russia to take.”
Earlier today, the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed a delay to President Putin’s rouble order.
Ukraine: Putin threatens to cut off Europe’s gas supplies
Berlin has vowed not to be ‘blackmailed’ by Russia over gas supplies (Image: GETTY)
He said: “Payment for the actual deliveries that are going on now does not need to be made today.
“It should be made somewhere in the second half of the month of April, or even at the beginning of May.”
A senior EU diplomat said the bloc was “still somewhat puzzled” by the Kremlin’s order.
The diplomat added: “It seems very likely that even people inside the Russian administration don’t know about the edict’s objectives.”
The European Commission urged member-states to defy President Putin (Image: GETTY)
Italy’s Ecology Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani told state broadcaster RAI that the order would not have a big impact on Europe.
He said: “If things remained like this, all in all not a lot would change.”
In a show of European unity, the European Commission urged member-states and gas companies to defy President Putin’s demands.
A spokesperson said “Agreed contracts must be respected. 97 percent of the relevant contracts explicitly stipulate payment in euros or dollars.
“Companies with such contracts should not accede to Russian demands.”
One European gas trader told Reuters: “If Putin turns off the gas, it might only be for a relatively short period of time.
“He needs our money and cannot reroute all the natural gas.”
Following a call tonight with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba promised that “more hits on Russia’s economy, financial system and trade are coming”.