German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck has said his government’s goal should be to ensure independence from Russia’s energy supplies, even if that means pushing for alternative solutions previously considered “unrealistic”.
In the wake of Russia’s decision to halt gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday due to their refusal to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand for payment in rubles, Habeck told reporters at a press conference in Berlin that Germany’s dependence on Russian gas had declined rapidly in recent weeks.
“Germany has now reduced its gas imports from Russia to 35 percent – compared to 55 percent before the war,” he said.
While it is “unrealistic” for Germany to completely ban Russian gas before next year given the new infrastructure required to diversify gas imports, “however, we have to try the unrealistic in some ways now,” Habeck said.
Habeck urged Germany to speed up the construction of a liquid natural gas plant within ten months. Habeck described Russia’s decision to halt gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria as an example of “the reality of using energy as a weapon” and said that “Russia shows that it is ready to work hard.”
They are ready to put an end to gas delivery. We must take this seriously, and this also applies to other European countries.
“It would be ridiculous for a big and mighty Germany to think: ‘Well, you beat the little ones up a bit – that’s a warning to you.’ No that’s the reality – that’s the reality where energy is used as a weapon and we have to see that we are not defenseless when energy is used as a weapon.”
He added that Germany’s goal is to diversify its energy infrastructure accordingly and “renew our energy infrastructure by relying on renewable energy and massive savings so that we are not defenseless.”
Habeck said, on Tuesday, during a visit to Poland, that Germany may deal with a ban on Russian oil imports, hinting that the country may end its dependence on Russian oil imports soon. Habeck told reporters that Germany’s share of crude oil imported from Russia had fallen from 35 percent before the war to about 12 percent, adding that a European embargo on Russian oil would be “manageable.”
Habeck confirmed on Wednesday that Germany will continue to make energy payments in euros or dollars in line with its European partners.