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PRAGUE: Slovakia will act in unison with the European Union against Russia’s gas payments demands, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said after a minister raised the option of paying in roubles if necessary to keep gas flowing. Slovakia is highly reliant on Russia for gas supplies and Moscow has demanded payment in roubles.

However, the European Commission said on Friday that European companies whose supply contracts stipulate payment in euros or dollars should not meet this demand. “In this situation, unity is key and we insist on respecting contract conditions and payments in euros,” Heger said in a Facebook post late on Sunday.

His comments came after Economy Minister Richard Sulik said the country would work together with Europe but that Slovakia could not be cut off from Russian gas flows and if it had to pay in roubles it would.

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“The gas (flow) must not stop… If there is a condition to pay in roubles, then we pay in roubles,” Sulik said in a Sunday debate show on public broadcaster RTVS, in which he also said the country would work on a common EU approach.

Slovak gas company SPP made its last gas payment in euros. Sulik said the next payment would come due on May 20, giving it time for a solution.

The threat of gas shortages comes after the peak demand European winter season but as businesses and households are already facing a huge surge in energy prices.

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