Merkel shamed for knowing about Putin’s gas threat – and doing nothing: ‘We were wrong’

Scholz imposes sanctions covering the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

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The EU’s reliance on gas and oil imported from Russia has been at the heart of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. While Western powers have sanctioned almost every aspect of Moscow’s economy, the energy sector, which is Russia’s biggest export, has been left largely untouched.

The reason for this is that the bloc depends on Russia for 40 percent of its gas, meaning that sanctioning the energy sector could lead to blackouts that cripple the bloc.

Germany, the EU’s largest economy, is particularly dependent on Moscow and has resisted calls for a ban on Russian gas.

On Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock appeared to slam Former Chancellor Merkel for increasing the country’s dependence on Putin despite being aware of the risks to Berlin’s energy security.

In a speech at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, Ms Baerbock said: “Actually, we as Europeans have known since 2014 at the latest that we must become completely independent of Russian fossil fuel imports, and a strategy was put in place to diversify our energy imports.

“However, we did not tackle this, and this is now taking its revenge in the most brutal way.”

In 2014, Russia invaded and subsequentially annexed Crimea from Ukraine, drawing flak from the international community.

Despite this, Gazprom was able to sign a deal to build the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which Moscow claimed would double the amount of gas flowing into Europe.

However, critics at the time raised alarm bells, warning that the deal would give Russia too much control over the bloc’s energy.

When Russia invaded Ukraine last month, Bill Browder, the CEO of Hermitage Capital, said: “Germany fears Russian gas retaliation if war breaks out.

“Maybe their leaders should have thought of that a decade ago and diversified when Russia started cutting off gas the first time.

“Instead the Germans built Nord Stream 2 to become even more dependent.”

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This comes as Germany has declared an “early warning” that the country could be headed for a gas supply emergency.

Since the invasion of Ukraine, fears have grown that Putin could stop the supply of gas to the EU as a retaliation to the sanctions imposed on Russia.

German Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck was also critical of the previous government’s decisions.

In a conference, he said: “Energy policy is always power policy, is always interest policy, is therefore always security policy.

“And if you look back, you almost can’t understand how we could be so blind to overlook that.

“We knew, or we could have known, that it was not only stupid to place all our security policy cards on just one country, but that it also wasn’t a smart idea to put them on that particular country.

“We have to acknowledge that we acted wrongly in the past.”

Both Mr Habeck and Ms Baerbock are part of the Green party, which wasn’t a part of the previous government.

These statements are also soon as a dig at the Social Democrats in Germany, and current Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was the vice-chancellor and finance minister in the previous government under Angela Merkel

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