Russian gas in rubles and the European Union: “Opening a second account in violation of sanctions.” But I start the procedure

Following what appeared to be clarification on the issue of paying for Russian gas in rubles or euros, the European Commission returned to stir the waters and says that the famous “second account” in rubles to pay for supplies “goes beyond what we have said is allowed within the framework of the guidelines we have given to member states”, thus opening A possible violation.

A position that arrives a few hours before the announcement where are you Initiation of the procedure for opening the two separate accounts as requested by Moscow. File open procedure
Accounts in Gazprom Bank started without accepting unilateral changes to existing contracts, Eni announced, explaining that “the opening of accounts is carried out on a temporary basis and without prejudice to any of the contractual rights of the company, which provide for the satisfaction of the obligation to pay for payment in euros. Such a quick reserve will be accompanied by The decision, which was shared with Italian institutions – – and continued – was made in accordance with the framework of international sanctions and in the context of an ongoing discussion with GazpromExport.

Gazprom Export is responsible for “any cost or risk associated with the different implementation of payments,” Eni wrote in the press release announcing that it had started the procedure for opening the two accounts at Gazprom Bank. Implementation of payments in these ways “it does not currently find any European regulatory provision that envisages prohibitions that directly affect the possibility of carrying out the above operations”. “Eni has already made it clear that the fulfillment of contractual obligations is intended to be completed by transfer in euros, and will renew the clarification by opening K accounts.” “The operational activities of converting the currency from the euro to the ruble – explained Eni – will be carried out by a specified clearing agent operating on the Moscow Stock Exchange within 48 hours of approval and without the intervention of the Central Bank of Russia.”

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The issue has been up for debate for days, but now it is urgent as the end of May approaches and with it the deadline for many payments by European importers of Russian raw materials. The Russian Federation has created a scheme that basically works like this: to access supplies, European companies must have two checking accounts with Gazprombankinstead of the only user here. They will pay in euros first (or dollars, depending on the contracts) for their supplies. The second will be converted into rubles, which according to Gazprom will be run by a “third agency” and will not be subject to sanctions: the flow will not touch the Central Bank, which is instead subject to sanctions and prohibits Western counterparties. Moscow itself said today again that this scheme “does not mean any further difficulty or loss” for customers, according to a Kremlin spokesman. Dmitriy Peskov. Clarification comes with the approach of May 20, which the Russian authorities set as the deadline for joining the new scheme and opening an account in rubles at Gazprombank

Only yesterday evening, the European Commission appeared to have made a firm point: It noted that merchants “must clearly state that they intend to fulfill their obligations under existing contracts and consider their contractual obligations relating to payment already fulfilled by payment in euros or dollars., in line with existing contracts. Basically, so that there is no violation of sanctions, contractual obligations are considered respected by the buyer at the time of payment in hard currency, with a kind of self-certification that he has done everything to avoid violating the rules.

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However, a fundamental ambiguity remains, since Russia considers payments respectable only at the time of conversion into rubles. According to Vice President Frans Timmermans, the line is: “Paying gas in rubles is a violation of sanctions, and we have made this clear in recent days. Opening bank accounts in euros is not a violation, but it can be used to circumvent sanctions .. We have to make sure. This does not happen and may We have issued instructions to states and companies. I hope that companies can operate without problems.”

Words that did not help clarify that gray area that Prime Minister Draghi has already denounced on a visit to the United States. Today, the new chapter of the saga: the opening of a second account in rubles “exceeds what we have said is allowed within the framework of the guidelines that we have presented to member states,” a European Commission spokesperson said. Eric Mamer. He said in response to a question whether the Commission had indicated, in the guidelines for Member States, only in opening a euro account at Gazprombank without commenting on any subsequent transactions (opening an account in rubles or transfer). Suspicion, therefore, does not seem fugatgo. He added: “The member state must impose the sanctions, and therefore it is the state that must ensure that companies comply with the sanctions: sanctions have a legal obligation, otherwise the commission can open the violation proceedings.” .

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