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Italy’s Eni will open accounts in both roubles and euros with Russia’s Gazprombank, as the energy giant accedes to demands from Moscow that gas payments be made in the Russian currency.
The decision, made to assure that payments could be made in time to avoid disruption of gas supplies, comes as the EU has avoided putting extensive new guidance into writing in its standoff with the Kremlin over gas supplies, after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s insistence that gas be paid for in roubles.
Eni’s new procedures will be neutral in terms of both cost and risk, and not incompatible with existing sanctions, the company said on Tuesday. The payment obligation can be fulfilled with the transfer of euros, Eni said.
The EU has issued two sets of guidance so far, both of which allow room for interpretation. The European Commission said on Tuesday that companies shouldn’t meet Moscow’s demands to open a rouble bank account to pay for gas, even as the bloc continues to avoid putting that restriction in writing.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said last week that “there is no official pronouncement of what it means to breach sanctions”, and that to date “nobody has ever said anything about whether rouble payments breach sanctions”.
Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
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