The Italian energy giant Eni is apparently bowing to the Russian requirements for paying for gas deliveries. The company will open an account in euros and one in rubles with Gazprombank “in the coming days”, Eni said on Tuesday.
In this way, the payment obligations in euros can be met, and the Russian bank will then convert them into rubles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered gas deliveries to be paid for in rubles. The Europeans see this as a subsequent change in the current treaties and reject it. Companies complying with Russian demands risk being prosecuted for violating EU sanctions.
According to Eni, the Russian authorities confirmed that “invoicing and payment will continue to be made in euros” and “an operator of the Moscow Stock Exchange will carry out the conversion into rubles within 48 hours without the involvement of the Central Bank of Russia”. Initially, Moscow had envisaged a conversion mechanism via the central bank, but this would clearly violate EU sanctions.
Another Kremlin decree then introduced a new two-step payment procedure, whereby first deposits are made in euros or dollars in one Gazprombank account and then converted into rubles in a second account at the same institution. On Tuesday, however, a spokesman for the EU Commission confirmed that opening a ruble account at Gazprombank already constitutes a violation of EU sanctions.
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