Why is Russia cutting off natural gas to Bulgaria and Poland?

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Russia's Gazprom says it is halting earthy gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, escalating tensions betwixt the Kremlin and Europe implicit vigor and Russia's penetration of Ukraine — and adding caller urgency to plans to trim and past extremity the continent's dependence connected Russia arsenic a supplier of lipid and gas.

Here are cardinal things to cognize astir the earthy state concern successful Europe:

What did Russia do?

State-controlled Russian vigor elephantine Gazprom said it was cutting disconnected Poland and Bulgaria due to the fact that they refused to wage successful Russian rubles, arsenic President Vladimir Putin has demanded.

European leaders accidental earthy state contracts spell retired outgo successful euros oregon dollars and that can't beryllium abruptly changed by 1 side. Poland has taken semipermanent steps to insulate itself from a cutoff, specified arsenic gathering an import terminal for liquefied state that comes by ship, and had planned to cancel its import woody with Gazprom astatine year's extremity anyway. Bulgaria says it has capable state for now.

Still, the unfastened questions astir what the alteration could mean person sent shudders done vigor markets, raising uncertainty astir whether earthy state could beryllium chopped disconnected to different European countries and origin a large deed to the economy.

"President Putin's decree that state payments made by 'unfriendly' countries indispensable beryllium denominated successful rubles raises the hazard that proviso could beryllium chopped disconnected to different European countries erstwhile payments are owed successful the adjacent fewer weeks," Edward Gardner of Capital Economics said successful a report.

The Kremlin warned of that anticipation if countries don't wage for vigor supplies successful rubles. But Russia besides relies connected lipid and state income to money its authorities arsenic sanctions person squeezed its fiscal system.

Under the caller outgo system, the Kremlin has said importers would person to found an relationship successful dollars oregon euros astatine Russia's third-largest bank, Gazprombank, past a 2nd relationship successful rubles. The importer would wage the state measure successful euros oregon dollars and nonstop the slope to speech the wealth for rubles.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that paying successful rubles violates European Union sanctions and that companies with contracts "should not accede to the Russian demands."

What is Putin after?

Because Putin's bid for ruble payments targets "unfriendly countries," it tin beryllium seen arsenic retaliation for the sanctions that person chopped disconnected galore Russian banks from planetary fiscal transactions and led immoderate Western companies to wantonness their businesses successful Russia.

"Gazprom's determination to suspend deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria from contiguous implicit their refusal to wage for Russian state successful rubles marks an escalation successful Russia's usage of state arsenic governmental leverage," Gardner wrote. 

The economical motives for demanding rubles aren't wide due to the fact that Gazprom already has to merchantability 80% of its overseas net for rubles, truthful the boost to Russia's currency could beryllium minimal. One motive could beryllium political, to amusement the nationalist astatine location that Putin tin dictate the presumption of state exports. And by requiring payments done Gazprombank, the determination could discourage further sanctions against that bank.

If Putin was looking for a pretext to chopped disconnected countries that person supported Ukraine, this could service that function. Russia is inactive sending state to Hungary — whose populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban has agreed to Putin's outgo statement — connected the aforesaid pipeline system.

"The Russian determination is astir surely a effect to expanding levels of Western enactment to Ukraine," analysts with Eurasia Group, a governmental hazard consulting firm, said successful a report. "It signals that Putin is present consenting to enactment revenues connected the enactment amid enlargement of NATO subject assistance to Ukraine and amid stronger US. statements astir helping Ukraine triumph the war."

Simone Tagliapietra, an vigor adept and elder chap astatine the Bruegel deliberation vessel successful Brussels, said "moving this way, Russia is leveraging EU fragmentation — it's a disagreement and regularisation strategy ... which is wherefore we request a coordinated EU response."

What's the authorities of state proviso to Europe? 

Coordinated U.S. and European Union sanctions exempt payments for lipid and gas. That is simply a White House concession to European allies who are overmuch much babelike connected vigor from Russia, which provides 40% of Europe's state and 25% of its lipid astatine a outgo of $850 cardinal a day.

Many aren't blessed that European utilities are inactive buying vigor from Russia, which connected mean got 43% of its yearly authorities gross from lipid and state income betwixt 2011 and 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Russia's determination to trim state income extracurricular of semipermanent contracts earlier the war, contributing to a wintertime vigor crunch that drove up prices, served arsenic a wakeup telephone that Europe's dependence connected Russian vigor near it vulnerable. The warfare has meant a accelerated reassessment of decades of vigor argumentation successful which inexpensive state from Russia supported Europe's economy.

MoneyWatch: Europe's reliance connected Russian vigor is helping money warfare successful Ukraine 04:25

But cutting disconnected Europe's earthy state doesn't payment Russia either.

When it comes to oil, Russia could successful mentation vessel lipid by tanker elsewhere, specified arsenic to India and China, countries that are vigor bare and not taking portion successful sanctions.

But state is different matter. The state pipeline strategy from large deposits successful bluish Russia's Yamal Peninsula to Europe doesn't link to the pipeline starring to China. And Russia has lone constricted facilities to export liquefied state by ship.

Could Europe past a full state cutoff?

Europe's system would conflict without Russian earthy gas, though the interaction would alteration based connected however overmuch countries use. Economists' estimates alteration wide for mislaid maturation for the European system arsenic a whole. Analysts astatine Moody's said successful a caller survey that a full vigor cutoff — state and lipid — would propulsion Europe into a recession.

Germany, the continent's largest economy, is heavy babelike connected Russian energy. Its cardinal slope said a full cutoff could mean 5 percent points of mislaid economical output and higher inflation.

Inflation is already astatine grounds highs, making everything from groceries to earthy materials much expensive, driven by soaring vigor prices.

The Bruegel deliberation vessel estimated that Europe would beryllium 10% to 15% abbreviated of mean request to get done the adjacent wintertime heating season, meaning exceptional measures would person to beryllium taken to trim state use.

What's Europe doing to trim reliance connected Russian gas? 

European leaders person said they can't spend the consequences of an contiguous boycott. Instead, they program to trim Russian state usage arsenic accelerated arsenic possible. They're ordering much liquefied earthy gas, which comes by ship; seeking much state from pipelines from places similar Norway and Azerbaijan; accelerating deployment of upwind and star energy; and pushing conservation measures.

The purpose is to chopped usage of Russian state by two-thirds by the extremity of the twelvemonth and wholly by 2027. It remains to beryllium seen if that extremity tin beryllium met successful practice. There's a bounds to liquefied state supplies, with export terminals moving astatine capacity.

Germany, which has nary import terminal, is looking to physique 2 — but that volition instrumentality years. Italy, which gets 40% of its state from Russia, has reached deals to regenerate astir fractional that magnitude from Algeria, Azerbaijan, Angola and Congo and is looking to summation imports from Qatar. And Europe's nether unit to restock its underground reserves successful clip for adjacent winter's heating demand.

The concern is superior capable that Germany has declared an aboriginal informing of an vigor emergency, the archetypal of 3 stages.