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MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that "unfriendly" countries, including all EU members, will need to set up rouble accounts to pay for gas deliveries from April.

Western countries have piled crippling sanctions on Moscow since it moved troops into Ukraine, including the freezing of its foreign currency reserves.

While the United States banned the import of Russian oil and gas, the European Union -- which received around 40 percent of its gas supplies from Russia in 2021 -- has retained deliveries from Moscow.

Russia’s gas supply to Europe at risk as rouble deadline nears

"They must open rouble accounts in Russian banks. It is from these accounts that payments will be made for gas delivered starting tomorrow, April 1," Putin said during a televised government meeting.

He announced that he signed a decree that outlines the "clear and transparent" process.

"If such payments are not made, we will consider this a breach of obligations on the part of our buyers with all the ensuing consequences," Putin said.

"Nobody sells us anything for free and we are not going to do charity work. That means existing contracts being stopped" if payments are not made, he added.

According to the decree, all payments will be handled by Russia's Gazprombank, a subsidiary of state energy giant Gazprom.

Buyers will transfer payments into a Gazprombank account in foreign currency, which the bank will then convert into roubles and transfer into the buyer's rouble account.

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