Rome, May 13 – Italy said it is no longer opposed to European companies paying for natural gas from Russia in rubles, the Russian currency, according to media reports.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi had been opposed to paying for Russian gas in rubles, after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to shut off gas to “unfriendly” countries if they refused to pay for gas supplies.
In late March, Italy announced Draghi discussed the situation with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The leaders said then that they rejected the calls for payment in rubles, insisting that euro-denominated contracts be respected, Xinhua news agency reported.
During his visit to the US this week, Draghi said that there was no “official pronouncement” from the European Union about whether the use of rubles would amount to a breach of sanctions put in place against Russia in the wake of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Draghi called the topic “a gray zone”.
Separately, Eni, Italy’s main energy supplier, said on Thursday that it would make its payment this month to Russian gas company Gazprom in rubles.
According to media reports, sources close to Gazprom said 20 European energy suppliers had opened ruble-denominated accounts with Russian banks in order to facilitate ruble-denominated payments.