Unlikely that Putin will turn off the gas tap: Timmermans
Vice-President Frans Timmermans of the European Commission considers it "very unlikely" that Russian President Vladimir Putin will cut off gas supplies to the Netherlands or large countries such as Germany and Italy. "Because he would hurt himself a lot with that," he said on the television program Buitenhof.
"It is not for nothing that he is currently putting pressure on small customers in particular," Timmermans said. "He prefers to keep the big boys on his side because that's about the only source of income he has left." He also emphasized that the goal is to get rid of Russian gas as quickly as possible.
A disruption of the gas supply is something to take into account, Timmermans said. But he added that stockpiling by EU member states is "going well" so far. Moreover, there are already plenty of talks with alternative suppliers who can quickly take over the supply from Russia.
Russia already turned off the gas tap to Poland, Bulgaria and Finland, because those countries refused to pay for gas in rubles. "Until now, we have always been able to respond well to that," Timmermans said. The countries could quickly be supplied with gas from other sources.
Timmermans reiterated that it is against the sanctions imposed to pay for gas in rubles, although member states such as Germany and Italy are reportedly pushing for this to be allowed. "You have to pay, and that is also stated in the contracts with Russia, in euros," he said.
Reporting by ANP