Bulgarian gas reserves will be enough for a month. Why did Russia cut off supplies?

On April 27, Russia suspended gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, citing this decision by refusing to pay for gas in rubles. On March 31, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree creating a new payment mechanism for Russian gas. Accordingly, the recipients had to transfer the amount owed to a foreign currency account in Gazprombank. Then the transferred money is converted into rubles and deposited into the account of this financial institution. In this way, the Kremlin will bypass European sanctions, strengthen the ruble, and at the same time reduce the risk of exposure of the third largest bank in Russia to sanctions, such as cutting off the SWIFT payment system.

Both Poland and Bulgaria refused to pay in rubles, although in the latter case the initial response was not firm and unequivocal, and the position of the Bulgarian government became more and more severe with the development of the conflict in Ukraine. Bulgaria is one of the poorest countries in the European Union in terms of energy. Bulgarian gas reserves are estimated at 17-18%. It will last for a month – says Łukasz Kobeszko, an expert at the Center for Oriental Studies, in an interview with Business Insider Polska.

Energy security in Poland is ensured by very full warehouses. For energy, Bulgaria depends on Russia. Currently, 76 percent of the country imports from the aggressor country. The gas it uses and almost all of its crude oil. The contract with Gazprom for the supply of gas expires in 2018 this year. The country’s deputy prime minister, Asin Vasiliev, who is also in charge of finances, suggested in March that Bulgaria would not extend the contract, and that Russian gas would be replaced by supplies from Azerbaijan and LNG. And although Prime Minister Kirill Petkov quickly softened this statement by suggesting a return to talks with Russia after the end of the war, the announcement of the Deputy Prime Minister may be one of the reasons why Russia blackmailed the state and abruptly separated it from the war. raw materials.

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– The second reason for Russian blackmail is due to the divisions in the Bulgarian political elite regarding support for Ukraine – explains Lukas Kupishko. – The Bulgarian government is relatively recent because it was elected in December 2021. There is a great struggle between the party of the Prime Minister, represented by Deputy Prime Minister Kornelija Ninoa, Minister of Economy and Industry. Ninoa does not want to consolidate relations with Russia, objects to the possibility of helping Ukraine, and warns the Prime Minister that if this happens, the Socialists will withdraw from the government. In contrast, President Romain Radio balances neutrality with a reluctance to get involved in the conflict, says the OSW expert.

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