Germany launched its gas emergency plan on Tuesday. The measure is intended to serve as an “early warning” of potential disruptions or disruptions in energy supplies from Russia.
The decision was made before March 31 – Russia’s deadline for “hostile countries” which includes Germany and the rest of the EU – to start paying for gas in rubles instead of dollars and euros. Berlin’s decision is the first in a three-step maneuver that includes early warning, alert and emergency levels.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the gas supply is secure for now, but stressed the need to “strengthen precautionary measures to prepare for an escalation on the Russian side.”
A special “crisis team” made up of representatives from the ministry and industry has come together to closely monitor the situation, “so that – if necessary – additional measures can be taken to increase the security of supply”, he said in a statement.
Moscow has said it no longer needs foreign currency after its central bank’s reserves in the West were frozen under draconian sanctions in response to the military attack on Ukraine.
Both the EU and the G7 rejected the idea of paying in rubles, with Habeck reiterating that position on Wednesday. “We will not accept [unilateral] breach of contract “, he told the reporter, adding that German companies are also opposed to the use of the rouble.
On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made it clear that Russia has no intention of supplying gas to Europe for free.
On the same day, Germany’s main industrial unions, IG Metall, IGBCE and IG Bau, met at a press conference to warn that the fallout from the Russian gas shutdown “not only the reduction of working hours and job losses, but also the rapid collapse of industrial production chains in Europe – with global consequences.”
Germany currently buys more than half of its fossil fuels from Russia. But following Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, Berlin announced its intention to reduce its dependence on Russian energy. Habeck said earlier that Germany would be able to go without Russian oil and coal by the end of 2022 and without gas by 2024.
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