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By Vera Eckert and Christoph Steitz
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Uniper sees Russian gas flows into Germany as secure for now despite a halt in supplies to Poland and Bulgaria as transit volumes headed elsewhere would be unaffected, Germany's top importer of Russian gas said on Wednesday.
But the group's chief executive said it could not be ruled out that Russia would stop supplying gas should Western nations decide in favour of an oil embargo.
Russian energy giant Gazprom earlier said it had halted gas supplies to the two Poland and Bulgaria in its toughest response so far to Western sanctions imposed against Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine.
Polish state-owned PGNiG confirmed its supplies from Gazprom had been cut.
"That is a deal between that counterpart and Gazprom. So it will not have an impact on the transit of volumes through Poland," Uniper's Chief Commercial Officer Niek den Hollander told analysts after presenting preliminary first-quarter results.
"So anyone who is offtaking, for instance in Germany, could theoretically still continue to use that route through the Yamal pipeline," he said. "As for Bulgaria, we think it's a similar situation."
CEO Klaus-Dieter Maubach told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, however, that an oil embargo could cause a stop to gas deliveries. "Any action on the Western side can trigger reactions."
Uniper confirmed it expected to be able to pay for long-term gas contracts under a scheme proposed by Moscow, which demands that payments should be made in roubles.
"We consider that the amendment of the payment process complies with the sanctions law and so the payments are possible," Uniper finance chief Tiina Tuomela said, chiming with last week's assessment by the European Commission.
Uniper was using a mechanism that allowed payments in euros, which are the turned into roubles on the Russian bank side via Gaprombank, she said, adding the first payment under that scheme would be made at the end of May.
($1 = 0.9420 euros)
(Reporting by Vera Eckert and Christoph Steitz; Editing by Louise Heavens, Tomasz Janowski and Lisa Shumaker)