Germany 'getting ready for the worst case' over Russian gas
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Germany is reportedly considering sanctioning Russian oil and gas as a response to Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, with the latest revelations exposing some shocking atrocities committed on the outskirts of Kyiv. German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said during a TV interview on Sunday: “There has to be a reaction. “Energy sanctions are among the things that will be discussed.” And earlier that day, Mr Scholz said Germany is set to “adopt new measures during the coming days” alongside his Western allies.
It comes after Russia is accused of committing horrific acts, such as civilian executions and rape, in occupied areas on the outskirts of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Chernihiv.
But it also comes after Germany came under fire for being too slow to deal a blow to Putin’s energy empire, repeatedly ruling out embargos on Russian oil and gas.
Berlin has changed its tone in recent weeks though, with Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck claiming that Germany can cut its imports of Russian oil in half by midsummer.
He has also said the country could almost entirely put an end to the imports by end of the year, and claimed coal could be halved in “the coming weeks”.
And he claimed Germany could completely phase out Russian gas by the middle of 2024.
But the country receives a staggering 40 percent of its gas supplies from Russia, sparking fears that weakened supplies would damage the German economy.
Mr Scholz said that if Russia’s gas was cut overnight, ”entire branches of industry would have to stop working”, triggering a “considerable economic crisis”.
This is despite the EU’s REPowerEU strategy detailing how the bloc will cut two thirds of Russian oil and gas imports by the end of the year, and completely scupper ties by 2030.
Germany had pushed back on this, arguing that the country was not ready to slash ties with Putin, despite the EU plan laying out how it would cope with plummeting Russian supplies.
The country had come under fire for holding this position and has been urged to hold a much tougher stance.
Mark Lynas, an advisor to Moldovan President Mohamed Nasheed, said: “Germany says the earliest it can get off Russian oil and gas is 2025. The EU says 2027.
“This is not true. They could stop buying Putin’s dirty fossil fuels immediately if they wanted to truly support the people of Ukraine.
“It is morally obscene that Europe sends billions to help finance Putin’s war on the innocent people of Ukraine.
“Since the invasion began on 24 February, Europe has sent 22 billion euros to the Kremlin.”
Mr Habeck has now proposed that the country starts gas rationing to deal with a feared supply cut.
He said: “We must increase precautionary measures to be prepared for an escalation on the part of Russia.
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“With the declaration of the early warning level, a crisis team has convened.”
He added that supplies were being safeguarded, but warned that “every kilowatt-hour counts” in a plea to consumers and companies to limit consumption.
But this also came after Putin demanded that “unfriendly” countries purchase gas in rubles, the Russian currency.
Russia, which supplies the EU with a third of its gas, warned that if this demand was not met, it would stop making deliveries.
Putin said that buyers of Russian gas “must open rouble accounts in Russian banks. It is from these accounts that payments will be made for gas delivered starting from tomorrow (April 1)”.
He added: “If such payments are not made, we will consider this a default on the part of buyers, with all the ensuing consequences. “Nobody sells us anything for free, and we are not going to do charity either – that is, existing contracts will be stopped.”
But G7 leaders decided to reject these calls after a meeting last week.
The Kremlin has now embarrassingly u-turned on its demand, saying that gas will carry on flowing with payments for fuel supplied from April 1 only due by the end of the month.
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