Kazakhstan calls for freedom of choice of currency when paying for Russian gas
ASTANA — Kazakh Energy Minister Bolat Aqsholaqov has called for freedom of choice over the currency to be used when paying for Russian natural gas, rather than following Moscow’s demand that countries not pay only in rubles, reported RFE/RL.
Aqsholaqov told reporters on October 21 that members of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) should not be limited to the Russian national currency in payments, which was triggered by international sanctions against Moscow which cut it off from the global financial payment system. because of the war in Ukraine.
“Our position has been that it should be up to the partners. It should be a commercial condition in bilateral agreements. When purchasing [Russian] gas, one side can choose any currency. It’s about the freedom to choose that currency,” Aqsholakov said.
Aqsholaqov added that Russia had offered to use the ruble as the currency for the future single oil and gas market within the group which also includes Armenia, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. According to Aqsholakov, the creation of such a market is currently under discussion.
In March, Moscow demanded that Western countries pay in rubles for Russia’s energy supplies to prevent its assets from being frozen by foreign banks and to reduce the role of the US dollar in world trade.
Three other EAEU members – Armenia, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan – have said they are ready to pay Russian gas deliveries in rubles.
While Kazakhstan, the second largest economy in the EAEU, exports gas to Russia, it also imports gas to parts of the country since most Kazakh oil and gas is found in the western regions.