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Germany backed into a corner by Putin's trick – value of ruble spiked after announcement




Ukraine: ‘Nothing will stop Putin’ says Volkivskyi

The move announced on Wednesday sent European gas prices soaring over concerns it would worsen the continent’s energy crunch. Data from the Independent Commodity Intelligence Services shows that in December last year Russian pipeline gas accounted for 32 percent of Germany’s supply.

Russian gas accounts for some 40 percent of Europe’s total consumption with EU gas imports from Russia fluctuating between £167million to £668million (€200million to €800million) a day so far this year.

Putin’s shock announcement prompted some to raise the question whether Germany is now transferring 21,303,000,000 rubles (£157million) a day to the Russian president.

Commentator, Martin Knobbe, writing for German daily Der Spiegel, said: “The 200million euros Germany transfers every day to Vladimir Putin’s state-owned companies, it was argued, could not be used directly to finance his war. After all, the apparatus and the soldiers are paid in roubles and not in foreign currency.

“Now, however, the Russian president has decided to accept only the domestic currency for energy transactions with ‘unfriendly states’, which include the entire EU.


Vladimir Putin said ‘unfriendly’ countries had to pay for gas in roubles (Image: Getty)

Olaf Scholz, Germany's chancellor, speaks at the Bundestag in Berlin

Olaf Scholz, Germany’s chancellor, speaks at the Bundestag in Berlin (Image: Getty)

“The announcement alone had an effect: the value of the weakening ruble rose, as did the price of natural gas – by 30 percent at its peak. The long-term effects could be even more serious.”

He explained that importing countries could be forced to exchange euros or dollars at Russia’s central bank in order to obtain the necessary rubles for payments.

Mr Knobbe warned, however, that the central bank has been largely shut down by Western sanctions, meaning the West would have to soften one of its most effective punitive measures.

He said: “I… cannot imagine Putin would transfer back his daily pocket money from Germany if it were to continue to reach him in euros.”


the receiving station for the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

The receiving station for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Germany (Image: Getty)

a Gazprom logo seen displayed on a computer screen

A Gazprom logo seen displayed on a computer screen (Image: Getty)

In his announcement, Putin, speaking at a televised meeting with government ministers, said: “Russia will continue, of course, to supply natural gas in accordance with volumes and prices … fixed in previously concluded contracts.”

“The changes will only affect the currency of payment, which will be changed to Russian rubles.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday that the currency which his country had to pay for energy is fixed by contract.

Mr Scholz, in a speech to the German parliament on Wednesday, said Europe will end its energy dependence on Russia but to do so from one day to the next would plunge it into a recession, risking hundreds of thousands of jobs and entire industrial sectors.

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The gas pipelines linking Russia and Europe (Image: Express)

He said: “Sanctions should not hurt European states harder than the Russian leadership.”

The possibility that a change of currency could throw the gas trade into disarray sent some European wholesale gas prices up to 30 percent higher on Wednesday.

British and Dutch wholesale gas prices jumped by Wednesday’s close.

The Russian ruble briefly leapt to a three-week high past 95 against the dollar and, despite some gains, stayed well below 100 after the announcement.

Putin speaks during a concert marking the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea

Putin speaks during a concert marking the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea (Image: Getty)

The currency is down around 20 percent since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Vinicius Romano, senior analyst at consultancy Rystad Energy, said: “At face value this appears to be an attempt to prop up the ruble by compelling gas buyers to buy the previously free-falling currency in order to pay.”

Putin said the government and central bank had one week to come up with a solution over how to move operations into the Russian currency and that gas giant Gazprom would be ordered to make corresponding changes to contracts.

However, with major banks reluctant to trade in Russian assets, some Russian gas buyers in the EU were not immediately able to say how they might pay for gas in the future.

According to Gazprom, 58 percent of its sales of natural gas to Europe and other countries as of January 27 were settled in euros while US dollars accounted for about 39 percent of gross sales and sterling around three percent.

The European Commission said it plans to cut EU dependency on Russian gas by two-thirds this year and end its reliance on Russian supplies before 2030.

But unlike the US and UK, EU states have not agreed to sanction Russia’s energy sector, given their dependency.

Germany’s Economy Minister, Robert Habeck, said on Wednesday he would discuss with European partners a possible answer to Moscow’s announcement.

Leon Izbicki, associate at consultancy Energy Aspects, said: “It is unclear how easy it would be for European clients to switch their payments to rubles given the scale of these purchases.”

“However, there are no sanctions in place that would prohibit payments of Russian gas in rubles.”

He added that Russia’s central bank could provide additional liquidity to foreign exchange markets that would enable European clients and banks to source the required amount of rubles on the market.

However, there are questions over whether Russia’s decision would breach contract rules agreed in euros.

Mr Habeck also said Putin’s demand was a breach of delivery contracts.

Russia’s list of “unfriendly” countries, corresponding with those that have imposed sanctions, include Britain, the United States, EU member states, Japan, Canada and Norway.

Additional reporting Monika Pallenberg



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'This is huge' Swedish Air Force jet deployed over Belarus border in threat to Putin




The Scandinavian country is not a member of NATO, but could be ready to trade in its neutral status in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

News of Stockholm’s decision to send a jet was revealed by twitter user Jamming.

They wrote: “Swedish Air Force Korpen active over Poland border area with Belarus.

“Sweden part of surveillance of Belarus and Ukraine!!!

“This is a huge political statement! Update on SwAF Korpen.”


The Gulfstream IV aircraft was tracked taking off from Linking airport and then flying towards the city of Grodno in western Belarus.

It was flying at an altitude of just under 12,000 metres at a speed of 836 kilometres per hour.

Although Sweden is not a NATO member, it is an “enhanced opportunity partner” of the military alliance.

The government also signed a statement in 2018 pledging to strengthen its defence cooperation.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson rejected calls by opposition parties earlier this month for the country to join NATO.

She argued that such a move would further destabilise Europe.

Her statement came in the wake of threats from Moscow that NATO membership would bring “serious military-political consequences” for Sweden.

However, there is growing public support among Swedes for their country to join the transatlantic military alliance.

A poll conducted in late February by broadcaster SVT found that 41 percent of the public supported NATO membership, while thirty-five percent were against.

It was the first time an opinion study in Sweden had found more people in favour of the country joining NATO than were against it.



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Putin humiliated: Russia tries and fails to capture defiant Ukraine village for tenth time




Russia has tried and failed to capture the village of the Chornobaevka ten times, according to Ukrainian presidential adviser Aleksey Arestovich. Videos shared by Ukrainian officials online showed the “tenth defeat of the Russian invaders in Chornobaevka”. The continued failures to capture the village comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last night that his country’s forces had “dealt powerful blows” to the Russian military.

Mr Arestovich told a press conference that Russian troops had tried to take Chornobaevka for the tenth time, but the assault again ended in failure.

Following this, the head of the nearby Mykolaiv Regional State Administration Vitaly Kim published a video showing “the defeat” as explosions erupt on the outskirts of the village.

The resolute village has become famous in Ukraine for its defence, as President Zelensky commended Chornobaivka last weekend for fending off six invasions at the time.

He said: “Ukrainian Chornobaivka will go down in war history. This is a place where the Russian military and their commanders have shown themselves for who they truly are – incompetent, capable of simply handing over their people for slaughter.

“Our military has annihilated the invaders near Chornobaivka six times.

“Six times, yet they keep coming back.”

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Online users ridiculed the latest Russian failures and hailed the Ukrainian defiance, with one Reddit user remarking: “At some point, I think every military intelligence outfit looking at this must be wondering how bad the rot is in the Russian military.”

One user visavillem added: “So this is the 10th time. Are Russians trying to bait Ukrainians to waste ammo with some obsolete/broken equipment, or are they really so stupid, that they keep stepping on the same rake again and again?”

Another user on Reddit adfgqert posted: “The Ukrainian people have resolve and determination that is beyond what I think is normal.

“Beyond inspirational and they bring fighting for what they believe in to a new level for me.” 

This comes amid ongoing setbacks for Russian military forces in the south of the country.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Russia had withdrawn most of its helicopters from a strategic airport in Kherson, in southern Ukraine, according to satellite images.

Kherson has also been the site of several local protests against the occupying Russian soldiers.

The official said: “We can’t corroborate exactly who is in control of Kherson but the point is, it doesn’t appear to be as solidly in Russian control as it was before.

“That would make it very, very difficult for them to make any kind of ground movement on Odesa.

“That would be a significant development, no question about that, in terms of the southern part of the war.” 


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