The Mallnow natural gas compressor station of Gascade Gastransport GmbH on April 27. The compressor station in Mallnow near the German-Polish border mainly uses Russian natural gas. (Patrick Pleul/Picture Alliance/Getty Images)
Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck said his government’s goal must be to ensure independence from Russian energy supplies, even if that means pushing for alternative solutions previously deemed “unrealistic”.
After Russia’s decision on Wednesday to halt gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria because they refused to comply with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand for payment in rubles, Habeck told journalists at a press conference in Berlin that Germany’s dependence on Russian gas in the decreased rapidly in the last few weeks.
“Germany has now reduced its gas imports from Russia to 35 percent – compared to 55 percent before the war began,” he said.
While it is “not realistic” for Germany to ban Russian gas outright before next year, given the new infrastructure needed to diversify gas imports, “still, in a way, we have to try the unrealistic now,” Habeck said .
Habeck called on Germany to speed up the construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal within ten months. Habeck described Russia’s decision to halt gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria as an example of “the reality where energy is being used as a weapon” and said that “Russia is showing that it is ready to take it seriously”.
They are ready to stop gas supplies. We have to take that seriously, it also applies to other European countries,” said Habeck.
“It would be cynical for big and powerful Germany to think, ‘Well, you can beat up the little ones a bit – that’s a warning to you.’ No, that is the reality – that is the reality where energy is being weaponized and we need to see that we are not defenseless when energy is being weaponized.”
Germany’s goal is to diversify energy infrastructures accordingly and “renew our energy infrastructure based on renewable energy and massive savings so that we are not defenseless,” he added.
On Tuesday, during a visit to Poland, Habeck said Germany could handle an embargo on Russian oil imports and hinted that the country may soon end its dependence on Russian oil imports. Habeck told journalists that Germany’s share of crude oil imports from Russia had fallen to around 12 percent from 35 percent before the war, adding that a European embargo on Russian oil was “manageable”.
Habeck emphasized on Wednesday that Germany would continue to make its energy payments in euros or dollars, like its European partners.