HELSINKI, April 28 — Finland will not pay for Russian gas in roubles despite Russia’s request for European countries to do so, the Finnish minister in charge of European affairs Tytti Tuppurainen said today.

“Finland’s stance is clear. We support harsh sanctions ... and we are ready to sanction also gas,” she told reporters. “Our policy is absolutely clear, we will not be paying in roubles. It is for the companies to carry this out within their own contractual framework with the Russian company counterpart.”

Under the new Russian payment mechanism, buyers are obliged to deposit euros or dollars into an account at Gazprombank, which then converts them into roubles, placing the proceeds in another account owned by the foreign buyer and transferring the payment in roubles to Gazprom.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that countries he terms “unfriendly” pay for gas in roubles or be cut off.

The European Commission has accused Moscow of blackmail over its demand but in an advisory note last week, said buyers of Russian gas could participate in the scheme if they could confirm payment was complete once they had deposited euros, as opposed to later when the euros were converted to roubles.

Gas is hardly used for heating houses in Finland and it accounts for around 7 per cent of all energy used in Finland, far less than in some other European countries.

Finnish utility Fortum , in which the state of Finland holds a 50.76 per cent stake, said today its German subsidiary Uniper would continue to pay in euros for gas from Russia’s Gazprom via the new payment mechanism. Read full story

Tuppurainen, who is also in charge of state-owned companies, said Uniper should adhere to the German government’s energy policies.

“We need EU level guidelines for this so that individual member countries would not make conflicting interpretations when it comes to paying in roubles,” she said.

The matter will be discussed between EU energy ministers on Monday. — Reuters