The European Commission has clarified how European companies can pay for Russian gas without violating EU sanctions against Russia.
The EC told countries in April that European companies could pay for Russian gas without violating sanctions, but only if they met certain conditions, after Russia demanded that foreign buyers start paying for gas in rubles.
In updated guidance shared with EU countries and made available to Reuters, the Commission reaffirmed its previous recommendation that EU sanctions do not prevent companies from opening accounts with an authorized bank and that companies can pay for Russian gas in the currency agreed in their existing contracts.
Almost all EU companies' supply contracts with Russian gas giant Gazprom are in euros or dollars.
Last month, Russia cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria for refusing to meet demands for payment in rubles. Several EU governments and major importers have asked Brussels for more clarity on whether they can continue to buy gas.
Companies must make a clear statement that when they pay in euros or dollars, they consider their obligations under existing contracts fulfilled, the EC guidance says. It should be understood that such payments in this currency definitively release the economic operator from payment obligations under these contracts without any further action on his part in relation to the payment, the message says.
By terminating its obligations after depositing euros or dollars, the company can avoid engaging in transactions with the Russian central bank, which is under sanctions and which could be involved in converting euros into rubles.