Poland says countries paying for Russian gas in roubles should be penalised

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WARSAW, April 28 (Reuters) - The European Union should penalise countries that use roubles to pay for Russian gas, Poland's climate minister said, following Moscow's decision to cut off supplies to Poland and Bulgaria over their refusal to do so.

EU member states appear split on how they can keep paying for gas without breaching European sanctions imposed over Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Many nations in Europe remain heavily reliant on Russian energy imports.

Poland, one of the EU's staunchest proponents of punitive sanctions against Moscow, says the bloc should ban purchases of Russian gas altogether.

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"Today what is missing is full sanctions on gas, that would solve the problem with Gazprom, the problem with following sanctions 100%. We expect these sanctions," Anna Moskwa told private broadcaster Polsat News late on Wednesday.

The main EU member states resisting tougher gas sanctions on Russia are Austria, Germany and Hungary, she added.

"We are counting on there being consequences for these countries (which pay in roubles) and that as a result they will cease paying in roubles."

She did not specify what kind of consequences Poland wanted to see.

Russia's new gas payments system, involving opening accounts at Gazprombank where payments in euros or dollars would be converted to roubles, offers wiggle room that could see some countries continue to buy Russian gas, fraying the bloc's united front against Moscow. read more

German power utility Uniper (UN01.DE) told the newspaper Rheinische Post on Thursday that it would transfer payments for Russian gas to a Russian bank and no longer to a Europe-based bank. read more

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Reporting by Alan Charlish Editing by Gareth Jones

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