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Draghi: “Europeans will continue to pay for gas in euros and not in rubles” | International

The Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Draghi, held a press conference on Thursday morning at the Association of Foreign Journalists in Italy where he reviewed, fundamentally, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and its many implications. Draghi spoke Wednesday night for almost an hour with Russian President Vladimir Putin and drew several conclusions. The first, guaranteed by his interlocutor, is that “Europeans will continue to pay for gas in euros and not in rubles”, as Russia had begun to demand. “It would be unacceptable, but also impossible. All exchanges are designed in one currency in general, and it does not work to change them. The technical difficulties are insurmountable”, Draghi pointed out.

The EU had rejected Russia’s demand to charge for its gas in rubles, saying it was a violation of existing contracts. The buried threat to stop paying, added to the doubts it has generated in Russian economic technicians, has caused a certain backlash. “I say it with the words of Putin, the existing contracts remain in force, the European companies, and he has remarked that this is a concession only to them, will continue to pay in euros or dollars,” said the Italian president. In addition, he insisted that the prices of goods that are exchanged worldwide, such as oil, gas or grain, have always been set in dollars and changing that now “is not easy.” Changing the currency would entail “insurmountable” technical difficulties, which may be able to be transformed, but “with a lot of time.” In addition, Draghi assured that after the conversation he had no doubts that the Russian gas supply is guaranteed.

The Italian leader, who announced to Putin as soon as he picked up the phone that he was calling him to talk about peace, also perceived during the telephone conversation that the ceasefire is not close, despite seeing the Russian leader somewhat changed. “Putin told me that he agreed that we should talk about peace. But I told him that this desire had to be demonstrated with a ceasefire, even if it was short. And to solve some nodes he has to meet with Zelensky, who has been asking for him since the beginning of the war. His response, however, was that the times are not yet ripe and that the negotiators have to move forward with the negotiations”.

The two leaders had not spoken since the beginning of the war. And despite small advances and the apparent withdrawal from areas such as kyiv, Draghi has said that after the conversation with Putin it is convenient to have one’s feet on the ground regarding the horizon of peace, which today is more a wish than a reality. “The facts are that they continue to launch missiles at kyiv. We all want to see the light, but we must have our feet on the ground. The facts say that sanctions work, that peace is achieved if Ukraine continues to defend itself. There is a desire to reach the end soon, but it is too soon to overcome skepticism”, he pointed out.

Draghi also confirmed that he spoke with the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, about the possibility of building a gas pipeline between Genoa (northern Italy) and Barcelona, ​​although for the moment “it is only a hypothesis and has to be studied”. The gas company Snam, with a network of more than 33,000 kilometers of gas pipelines in Italy, is already carrying out technical studies to analyze the viability of the infrastructure.

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Draghi explained that after the energy crisis that has been opened by the war in Ukraine, the Mediterranean countries “have found that they can be an important logistics center for gas now and for hydrogen tomorrow.” “It’s something that can work to bring resources from the southern Mediterranean to northern Europe,” he added. In any case, he insisted, these are investments that take years and this infrastructure cannot be counted on now to solve the current problem.

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