“As far as I know, the last few payments were carried out in rubles,” Kerobian told Russia’s RBK TV channel.
The Moscow daily Kommersant on Friday quoted a spokesman for Russia’s Gazprom gas monopoly as confirming the information.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last month ordered Gazprom to charge buyers in “unfriendly” countries in rubles. The move boosted the Russian currency after it plunged to all-time lows when the West imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian demand has been rejected by European countries, which pay for Russian gas mostly in euros. They say Russia is not entitled to redraw contracts.
By contrast, Armenia’s current and former governments have for years sought a switch to ruble payments in hopes of minimizing the impact of exchange rate fluctuations on the cost of Russian gas. Moscow is thought to have objected to that until recently.
Kerobian said that the Russian gas price for Armenia is still technically set in U.S. dollars, with Yerevan paying ruble equivalents of it.
Suren Parsian, a Yerevan-based economist, said this means that Armenia will gain little from the new payment scheme for the time being.
“Regardless of whether the ruble’s exchange rate goes up or down, the Armenian side still has to pay an equivalent of $165 [per thousand cubic meters of gas,]” argued Parsian.
Gazprom’s wholesale tariff for Armenia is much lower than the current international gas prices. They skyrocketed even before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.
Armenia imported last year more than 2 billion cubic meters of Russian gas, worth $414 million, to meet the bulk of domestic demand for the fuel.