30 Mar 2022 19:13

Russian, German experts to hold additional talks on gas payments, Kremlin says following Putin-Scholz call

MOSCOW. March 30 (Interfax) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have spoken over the phone, the Kremlin press service said.

"Vladimir Putin substantively informed the chancellor of the decision to transition to payments for gas delivered to Germany, among other places, in Russian rubles. This change in the arrangement for making payments is being introduced due to the currency reserves of the Bank of Russia being frozen by members of the European Union in violation of the norms of international law. It was noted that this decision should not lead to a worsening of contract conditions for European importers of Russian gas, and it was agreed that experts of the two countries will hold additional talks on this subject," the press service said.

"Vladimir Putin and Olaf Scholz exchanged opinions on the latest round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian representatives held the day before in Istanbul. Ensuring the safe evacuation of civilians from areas where hostilities are taking place, primarily Mariupol, was also given consideration," it said.

The Kremlin has confirmed the information that the mechanism of payments for gas by foreign partners in euro through Gazprombank, which will then convert the money to rubles, is under consideration.

During a press briefing on Thursday, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov was asked whether the mechanism German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke about on Wednesday after a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin is really under consideration. "It is under consideration," Peskov said.

The German government said after the conversation between Putin and Scholz that payments for gas will be made in euro through Gazprombank, which will convert them to rubles.

Peskov declined to specify the details of this scheme, including whether it will apply to other countries, not only to Germany. "Details will follow, we will not provide any details on this now," he said.

Peskov said all details have been communicated to colleagues in Berlin.

Responding to a follow-up question as to whether France and Italy have expressed readiness for such mechanism, Peskov said: "Information was also provided by the president."

Putin had a conversation with Scholz and then with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Wednesday. He had a phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron on March 29.