On Tuesday, government authorities in Poland and Bulgaria said that Russia is suspending the natural gas supply after refusing to pay for their supplies in Russian rubles.
The government of the two European Union and NATO members said Russian energy giant Gazprom informed both the nations that Russia would block the gas supplies starting Wednesday.
The gas suspensions would be the first since Russian President Vladimir Putin said that “unfriendly” foreign buyers would have to pay the state-owned Gazprom in rubles instead of dollars and euros. No country excluding Hungary has agreed to pay in rubles.
If Gazprom suspends supplies to other countries, it could cause economic pain to Europe, causing gas prices to rise and possibly leading to rationing. Germany is particularly vulnerable due to its heavy dependence on Russian gas. But cutoffs would also deal a blow to Russia’s economy.
Poland has been a strong supporter of neighboring Ukraine during the Russian invasion. It is a transit point for weapons the United States and other Western nations have provided Ukraine.
This week, the Polish government confirmed that it was sending tanks to Ukraine’s army. On Tuesday, it announced a sanctions list targeting 50 Russian oligarchs and companies, including Gazprom.
Once one of Moscow’s closest allies, Bulgaria has cut many of its old ties with Russia after a new liberal government took the reigns last fall and after Putin’s military invaded Ukraine. It has supported sanctions against Russia and provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
Bulgaria has been hesitant to provide military aid to Ukraine. Still, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and members of his coalition government are heading to Kyiv on Wednesday for talks with Ukrainian officials about further aid to the country.
Poland’s state gas company, PGNiG, said Gazprom informed that its deliveries through the Yamal-Europe pipeline would stop Wednesday morning.