The European Commission said opening ruble accounts with a Russian bank to pay for gas would violate the bloc's sanctions against Moscow after Brussels issued updated instructions on how companies can legally continue to buy Russian fuel, Reuters reported.
In updated guidance provided to EU countries, the Commission reiterated its previous recommendation that EU sanctions do not prevent companies from opening accounts with certain banks. It states that companies can pay for Russian gas - provided they do so in the currency agreed to in their existing contracts, and declare the deal closed once payment is made in that currency. Almost all EU companies' supply contracts with the Russian gas giant Gazprom are concluded in euros or dollars.
But a European Commission spokesman said on Tuesday that opening a ruble account with Gazprombank would violate EU sanctions.
The confusion stems from the fact that gas buyers in Europe cannot solve the payment puzzle and seem to be taking different positions on the payment scheme.