Russian President Vladimir Putin has greenlighted ruble gas payments for buyers from countries that placed sanctions on Russia in connection with Ukraine.
Putin signed a decree on Thursday demanding that these buyers open accounts in Russian banks to facilitate the payments.
The measure takes effect from April 1.
“If unfriendly countries do not pay in rubles starting from April 1, we will consider this a default on gas contracts, in which case the existing contracts will be scrapped,” the president said.
The ‘unfriendly’ states Putin referred to are the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Switzerland, the 27 nations of the European Union, and a number of smaller countries.
The move to switch to Russia’s national currency in gas payments was announced earlier this month in response to the unprecedented sanctions against the country, including the seizure of nearly half of the nations’s foreign reserves held abroad.
The announcement instantly sent the ruble surging from historic lows against the US dollar and the euro, with the Russian currency recovering nearly all its losses since the crisis in Ukraine began over a month ago.