Polish MP says Germany is ‘corrupt’ over Ukraine war policy
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Germany claims to have completely cut energy ties with Russia after being one of the most dependent countries on its supplies in Europe. German Finance Minister Christian Lindner argued that the country has found alternatives to Russian energy and no longer relies on its imports. He said the nation has diversified its energy mix, getting its hands on new sources of power amid the war in Ukraine and supply squeezes from Russia.
He told the BBC: “Yes, of course Germany is still dependent on energy imports, but today, not from Russian imports but from global markets.”
Before the war in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin’s gradual but increasing supply cuts, 55 to 60 percent of its natural gas came from Russia. But both in the build-up to and during the conflict, the Kremlin has been accused of “weaponising” energy by cutting off flows in retaliation to harsh economic sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine.
For instance, much of the Russian gas was pumped through the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany, the major system which transited supplies via the Baltic Sea. But back in September, the Kremlin-controlled energy conglomerate Gazprom said it was suspending flows “indefinitely”, citing maintenance work.
This is despite the German federal network agency claiming in a statement that the defects found by Gazprom were no reason to stop the gas flows.
However, with the knowledge that it was both no longer safe to rely so heavily on Russian gas, coupled with the plan to slash Putin’s revenue and batter his enemy empire to cripple his war efforts in Ukraine, Germany realised it needed to find alternatives to Russian supplies, and fast.
To do so, the nation raced to fill up its gas storage reserves ahead of a looming winter of shortages that sparked fears of blackouts. This week, data from the Federal Network Agency showed its storage levels hit a staggering 90 percent, likely calming fears of power outages after Putin threatened to “freeze Europe”.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Monday at an energy summit: “For the year 2023, and the winter of 2023/24, I think we have a more than justified hope that we will have full storage facilities at the beginning of winter as well, and that we will then have energy security and stability … also at favorable prices.”
He also argued that the country now has the infrastructure to import 14 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year of liquified natural gas (LNG), an alternative to pipeline gas, after building three floating LNG terminals since last year. However, he warned that the country still needs 30 bcm to make up for the 55 it previously received via Nord Stream 1.
Despite this, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has claimed that “energy security for this winter is guaranteed”. Experts have warned that the LNG terminals need to come online at the start of next year. Meanwhile, they have urged that energy consumption needs to be reduced by 20 percent.
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Meanwhile, the country has also chosen to explore alternatives to gas, although not all of those are considered “climate friendly”. In fact, as Germany scrambled to keep the lights on the face of no Russian gas, it moved to expand a coal mine near Luetzerath. But activists are furious Germany wants to boost its use of the dirtiest fossil fuel.
This week, 20-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunburg joined protesters in North Rhine-Westphalia to demonstrate against the opencast coal mine. She and other protesters were arrested as a result.
It came after energy company Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), which owns the mine, agreed with Berlin that it could demolish Luetzerath in exchange for its faster exit from coal and the saving of five villages originally slated for destruction.
But RWE has said the coal lying under the village is required as early as this winter. The German Government claims it needs to expand the mine to satisfy German energy demand in the face of no Russian supplies.
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