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Russia denies gas ‘blackmail’ after halting flows to Poland and Bulgaria

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Russia denied accusations on Wednesday that it was using natural gas supplies as a tool of blackmail after energy giant Gazprom halted flows to Poland and Bulgaria, and the Kremlin said other countries refusing to pay for gas in rubles could face the same outcome.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Gazprom’s announcement was yet another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected this, telling reporters: “Russia was and remains a reliable supplier of energy resources to its consumers and remains committed to its contractual obligations.”

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He declined to say how many countries had agreed to switch to paying for gas in rubles in line with a decree issued last month by President Vladimir Putin, who said at the time that countries would be cut off if they refused.

“When the payment deadlines approach, if some consumers decline to pay under the new system, then the president’s decree of course will be applied,” Peskov said.

Asked whether Russia was ready for the budget losses it could sustain if European countries declined to pay for gas in rubles, Peskov said: “Everything has been calculated, all risks have been forecast and necessary measures taken.”

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