Gazprom studies options for halting gas supplies to Europe, Kommersant reports

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(Reuters) -Russian energy giant Gazprom is looking at options for halting gas supplies to “unfriendly” countries and evaluating the possible consequences, Russian daily Kommersant reported on Thursday citing unnamed sources.

President Vladimir Putin has said Russia will soon require “unfriendly” countries to pay for fuel in roubles, raising alarm about a possible gas supply crunch in Europe.

Putin has ordered the Russian central bank and Gazprom to prepare the payment scheme by March 31 amid Western sanctions against Russia for its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Countries in the European Union, where Gazprom accounts for about 40% of gas supplies, have stated their refusal to pay for Russian gas in roubles.

“Gazprom … is indeed working on an option of a complete stoppage of gas supplies to ‘unfriendly countries’ and is evaluating the consequences of such measures,” the newspaper wrote.

Kommersant said Gazprom had declined to discuss the issue with the newspaper. Gazprom did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The Kremlin’s spokesman said on Wednesday that customers will not be obliged to switch to roubles as soon as Thursday as “payments and delivery is a time-consuming process”.

Germany, Russia’s largest gas client, will continue to pay in euros or dollars, a government spokesman said on Wednesday, adding that Putin had told the German chancellor that nothing would change for European partners, despite his plan for rouble payments.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by David Clarke)

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