A Russian majority state-owned energy giant has suspended gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after citing the two countries' refusal to pay in Russian roubles. 

Gazprom confirmed it halted deliveries to Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz and Poland’s PGNiG on Wednesday morning. 

The suspensions are the first since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last month that "unfriendly" foreign buyers would need to pay in Moscow's own currency. 

Europe imports large amounts of Russian natural gas to heat homes, generate electricity and fuel industry, with the imports continuing despite the war in Ukraine.

Around 60 per cent of imports are paid in euros, and the rest in dollars. Mr Putin’s demand was apparently intended to help bolster the Russian currency amid the war in Ukraine.

European leaders said they would not comply, arguing the requirement for them to purchase roubles and then pay Gazprom violated the terms of contracts and their sanctions against Russia.

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“The Russian proposal for a two-step payment procedure is in violation with the current contract and bears considerable risks for Bulgaria, including to make payments without receiving any gas deliveries from Russia,” the Bulgarian government said.

Bulgaria said it was working with state gas companies to find alternative sources.

Poland’s state gas company, PGNiG, confirmed on Wednesday morning that deliveries through the Yamal-Europe pipeline have been completely suspended. 

However, in a statement, it added that this would not currently affect supplies to customers. 

The company added that it saw the suspension as a breach of contract is has with Gazprom. 

Poland not only has refused to pay for natural gas in roubles, but the country has been a strong supporter of neighbouring Ukraine during the Russian invasion.

It is a transit point for weapons the United States and other Western nations have provided Ukraine.

The Polish government confirmed this week that it was sending tanks to Ukraine’s army. On Tuesday, it announced a sanctions list targeting 50 Russian oligarchs and companies, including Gazprom.

The Yamal pipeline carries natural gas from Russia to Poland and Germany, through Belarus. Poland has been receiving some nine billion cubic metres of Russian gas annually.

Poland has been working since the 1990s to wean itself off of Russian energy and was already on track to end its reliance on Russian gas this year. It recently moved to stop imports of Russian coal.

The government in Warsaw has urged other European countries to lessen their dependence on Russian energy sources.