EU: Kremlin using fossil fuels to try to blackmail us

STORY: Moscow says the gas cut-off is to enforce its demand for payment in roubles, needed to shield its economy from international sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

Von der Leyen said at a news conference in Brussels that the Kremlin had failed to "sow division" amongst the EU's member states and that they were working to overcome the shortfall.

"Gazprom's announcement that it is unilaterally stopping gas deliveries to certain EU member states is another provocation from the Kremlin. But it comes as no surprise that the Kremlin uses fossil fuels to try to blackmail us. This is something the European Commission has been preparing for in close coordination and solidarity with member states and international partners. Our response will be immediate, united and coordinated," she said.

Gazprom, the state-controlled gas pipeline monopoly, which supplies Europe with about 40% of its gas needs, said transit via Poland and Bulgaria - whose pipelines supply Germany, Hungary and Serbia - would be cut if fuel was siphoned off illegally.

Fears more states could be hit, in particular Germany, Europe's industrial powerhouse which in 2021 relied on Russia for more than 50% of its gas, sent gas prices soaring.

However, von der Leyen said EU states were working to reinforce supplies to Poland and Bulgaria from other sources.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia was a reliable energy supplier.

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