In a Sunday TV interview, Robert Habeck stated that Moscow and Berlin are involved in arms-wrestling for natural gas. Last Tuesday, Russia’s Gazprom reduced deliveries to Germany and several other European nations, citing technical issues, which it blamed on a German company.
Speaking to Germany’s ZDF TV, Habeck said the “We have already taken steps and we are now using an incremental approach” to the country’s energy security are right since “It was obvious that our dependence on gas is huge.” The minister used a sports metaphor to describe relations between Berlin and Moscow in this regard.
The fact is that it’s a kind of arm wrestling, in which Putin had the longer arm at the start. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get the stronger arm through enough effort.
Gazprom, a Russian gas company owned by the Russian government, said last Tuesday it was reducing its delivery to Germany via Nord Stream Pipeline by 40%. According to the energy corporation Siemens, the German company that was supposed to fix several compressor units failed to do so on time. The pipeline is now operating at half its capacity. Germany and other nations alleged that Russia was using gas exports as an economic weapon in retaliation for the West’s support of Ukraine.
Following this announcement journalists asked Habeck to tell them if Germans needed to be prepared for another winter. The official struck a somewhat optimistic tone, insisting “it’s all still speculation.”
The German government was always aware of the possibility “Nord Stream 1 will be cut by 60%” he said, and this allowed Berlin to plan ahead to be “Get as prepared as possible” in anticipation of the latest reduction.
According to Habeck, it is thanks to the government’s efforts that the country’s gas reserves are at a “Very good” level for this time of the year, which is 57%. “Now we will see what happens.”
“It is important to remember that gas reservoirs must be filled with winter. They should not exceed 90%, as stipulated by law.” he said.
Germany will have to both purchase more gas from the international market and conserve energy to compensate the losses.
However, “It is important to recognize that Putin reduces the supply of gas to Europe, one by one. This also drives up the cost.” the minister noted.
In a five-page outline of Germany’s energy policy cited by DPA on Sunday, Habeck appeared less optimistic about the upcoming winter, which could prove to be “It is really difficult” unless the country and its industries start taking steps to conserve energy.
Rising energy costs are already affecting Germany and many other European countries. Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, which began in late February, sent shockwaves across the market, and led to ever-increasing costs.
The EU has reduced or blocked imports from Russia of coal and oil under its sanctions. However, it has not yet imposed any restrictions on Russian gas which is heavily relied upon by many European countries, such as Germany.
German businessmen and officials have warned repeatedly that the economic impact of cutting off Russian natural gas would be severe.
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree in March requiring countries that have placed sanctions against Moscow to either pay Russian gas in rubles, or have their supplies of gas cut off. While some countries have refused to comply, others, such as Germany and Italy, have agreed to buy gas on the Kremlin’s terms.