The Hungarian Foreign Minister confirmed to CNN that his country will use the payment scheme put in place by Moscow to pay for its oil and gas.
Defending this decision, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said:
“85% of our gas supply comes from Russia, and 65% of our oil supply comes from Russia. Why? Because this is being determined by infrastructure. This is not for fun, we have not chosen the situation,” he told CNN’s Richard Quest.
Szijjártó said there are no alternative sources or routes which makes it possible for them to stop importing Russian energy in the next few years.
Under the Russian payment scheme, energy importers have had to open two bank accounts with Gazprombank — a foreign currency account and a rubles account. The proceeds of sales are paid in foreign currency (dollars or euros) which is then converted by Gazprombank into the ruble account.
Several other countries are reportedly using the scheme. A European Commission document release last week advised that it “appears possible” to comply with the new Russian rules without getting into conflict with EU law.
Sanctions experts say the Russian payment system allows Moscow access to energy proceeds regardless of the sanctions in place on foreign currencies.
CNN’s Richard Quest notes two things — the entire process is extremely legally murky and the scheme also gives Putin the political advantage — that he is forcing the companies into his scheme to pay in rubles.