Another EU state declares gas emergency — Analysis

Just a few hours after Germany issued the same alert on Wednesday, Austria has now declared a stage one alert about the supply of natural gaz. Vienna took this precaution to prevent shortages in the event that Russia demands payments in rubles and not the dollars or euros sanctioned by the United Nations.

A stage-one alert indicates that there are “concrete and reliable indications that the gas supply could deteriorate,” Austria’s Climate Ministry announced, adding that it will be “monitoring”The situation. The country’s reserve tanks currently stand at 13%, which is about average for the season, local media reported.

“Everything will be done to ensure the gas supply for Austria’s households and businesses,”Wednesday’s statement was made by Chancellor Karl Nehammer. If disruptions happen, businesses will be encouraged to seek out alternatives, while gas rationing won’t happen until stage three, the government said.

Vienna’s declaration comes hours after Berlin declared the identical stage-one emergency, fearing a possible disruption of natural gas supplies as the clock ticked closer to Russia’s deadline for “unfriendly countries”To begin paying in rubles

Germany triggers gas emergency plan

Germany and the rest of the EU were designated unfriendly by Moscow over their embargo on trade in euros, imposed due to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine that began last month. If Russia is unable to receive payments for the natural gas shipments in euros or dollars – the US has likewise sanctioned its currency – then it will be rubles or nothing, Moscow said. 

Russia’s sanctions were as severe as any EU leader who complained that this was a breach of contract. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson made clear Tuesday that Russia did not intend to supply gas for Europe at no cost.

Germany’s top industrial unions have warned that delivery interruptions could result in “the rapid collapse of the industrial production chains in Europe – with worldwide consequences.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Moscow discussed the matter earlier in Wednesday. However, their readings were somewhat inconsistent.

Russia's Putin and Germany's Scholz talk gas for rubles

According to the Germans, Putin said payments could still be made to a bank that hasn’t been embargoed, and Scholz asked for written information to better understand the procedure. According to the Kremlin, “experts of the two countries would discuss the issue further.”

Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and end the conflict with the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Russia recognized both of them as independent countries and asked for military support.

Russia insists that Ukraine declare itself neutral and refuse to join NATO’s military bloc. Kiev maintains that Russia’s offensive was not provoked and denies claims that it planned to take the Donbass republics.

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