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Italy's Draghi plays down risk of Russian gas supply disruption

Italy's Draghi sees little risk of gas disruption over Russian rouble demand
Italy's Draghi sees little risk of gas disruption over Russian rouble demand   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022
By Reuters

WASHINGTON -Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Wednesday he was confident Moscow’s demand that European buyers pay for Russian gas in roubles will not lead to a disruption of supplies.

The European Commission has warned that complying with Russia’s scheme might breach EU sanctions, but Draghi said it was a “grey zone” with no official ruling on the matter.

Speaking during a visit to the United States, Draghi said he was “quite confident” about the supply situation for “a silly reason” that there was a lack of clarity on the rules after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

“There is no official pronouncement of what it means to breach sanctions, nobody has ever said anything about whether roubles payments breach sanctions or not, how these payments are organised, so it’s such a grey zone here,” he said, speaking in English.

Italy relied on Russia for 40% of its gas imports last year and has been urgently seeking to find alternative suppliers.

Draghi said he believed that the largest gas importer in Germany had already paid in roubles but did not name the company he had in mind.

“As a matter of fact most of the gas importers have already opened their accounts in roubles with Gazprom,” he added, referring to a new mechanism for payment being introduced by Russia.