Amid demands from Russia that central Europe pay for the country’s gasoline using rubles starting on March 31, Germany and Austria have sounded the alarm over imminent disruptions in the supply chain, the BBC reported on Wednesday.
Germany, which gets about half its gas and a third of its oil from Russia, urged consumers and companies to reduce gas consumption. Klaus Müller, president of the country’s Federal Network Agency, said to prepare for “all scenarios.”
Neighboring Austria relies on Russia even more for gas, receiving nearly 80% of its supply from the country. Officials have said they would begin to monitor the market closely.
This “early warning phase,” which both countries have initiated, is the first of three steps designed to prepare citizens and businesses for the last step of potential fuel rationing.
Meanwhile, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov indicated that Russian leaders had changed tune on the immediacy of their demands. He described the country’s current position as transitionary.
“Payments and delivery are a time-consuming process … from a technological point of view, this is a more prolonged process,” Peskov said.
But Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin on Wednesday criticized the lack of immediacy from European countries to switch over to ruble payments.
“European politicians need to stop the talk, stop trying to find some justification about why they cannot pay in rubles,” Volodin said. “If you want gas, find rubles.”
The news in Europe was followed by President Joe Biden’s Thursday announcement that the United States would begin releasing 1 million barrels of oil per day from its strategic reserves to combat skyrocketing gas prices, according to The Washington Post.
”The scale of this release is unprecedented: the world has never had a release of oil reserves at this 1 million per day rate for this length of time,” a Wednesday statement from the White House read. ”This record release will provide a historic amount of supply to serve as [a] bridge until the end of the year when domestic production ramps up.”
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