Russian gas still flowing despite rouble deadline
China Daily

A Ukrainian soldier walks at an airfield in the Kyiv region, Ukraine, on Saturday in front of an Antonov An-225 Mriya, the world's biggest cargo plane, which was destroyed during the conflict. (Photo: Agencies)

Russian gas continued to flow into Germany this weekend despite Berlin's refusal to adhere to President Vladimir Putin's demand for gas contracts to be paid in roubles.

"Gas is flowing to Germany. Deliveries are incoming. Supply security is still guaranteed," a German government spokesperson said on Saturday.

The German government is "in close contact" with its European partners and will "monitor the situation closely," the spokesperson added.

German transmission system operator Gascade, which manages the German section of the Yamal-Europe pipeline, said on Saturday that it couldn't confirm any cutting off of gas supplies to Germany.

Putin delivered an ultimatum on Thursday to "unfriendly" nations to pay for their energy in roubles starting Friday, or risk being cut off from vital supplies. However, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz insisted that German companies will continue to make payments for Russian gas in euros.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia would not turn off gas supplies to Europe immediately as payments on deliveries due after April 1 are due in the second half of this month and May.

European buyers and governments are working on ways to potentially pay for gas in roubles. With weeks left before bills are due, governments in Europe, which relies on Russia for more than a third of its gas supplies, are talking to energy companies about Russia's demand.

The European Commission said on Friday that those with contracts requiring payment in euros or dollars should stick to the stipulated currency.

Russia's gas giant Gazprom announced on Friday that it will quit its business operations in Germany without giving any details or explanation of its decision.

Meanwhile, Ukraine said on Saturday its forces had seized back all areas around Kyiv, claiming complete control of the capital region for the first time since Russia launched the "special military operation" on Feb 24.

There was no immediate Russian comment on the claim, but its Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov stressed Russia's combat effectiveness, saying aviation forces had struck 51 Ukrainian military facilities during the night.

Some US officials familiar with the latest US intelligence assessments said Russia has revised its strategy to focus on taking control of the Donbass and regions in eastern Ukraine with a target date of early May.

On Sunday morning, the southern port city of Odesa was hit by a Russian airstrike, Serhii Bratchuk, spokesman of the operational staff of Odesa regional military administration, said on national television. Several explosions were heard in the city before sunrise.

Konashenkov confirmed high-precision sea and air-launched missiles destroyed an oil refinery and three storage facilities near Odessa, which had supplied fuel to Ukrainian troops.

An article published by RT said the Russian Defense Ministry had identified US officials involved in developing biological weapons in Ukraine.

These officials were "the heads of divisions and employees of the US Department of Defense, as well as its main contractors," said the report, citing Konashenkov.