Photo: German Federal Minister of Economy, Robert Habeck

Sanctions Blowback: Germany Faces Energy Crisis – Habeck Says Russia “Using Energy As A Weapon”

Germany’s energy sanctions on Russia is creating an unprecedented energy crisis in the country, who remains heavily dependent on Russian gas supplies. Now, the coalition government is working on gas emergency plan measures.

Gazprom has reduced by 40 percent its gas deliveries through the Nordstream 1 pipeline. Moscow justified the interruptions by saying spare parts were missing due to sanctions.

In February 2022, the coalition government suspended the Nordstream 2 pipeline as part of its energy sanctions package against Russia in response to the war in Ukraine. Built at an estimated cost of €9.5 billion ($10.6 billion), and completed in September 2021, the Nordstream 2 pipeline would have doubled gas supplies from Russia to Europe, and bypassed Ukraine as transit country. The United States has lobbied strongly against the project.

But Germany’s energy sanctions on Russia is now coming at the price of an energy crisis in the country, a situation that sanctions critics had already warned about.

Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Die Grunen/The Greens) has described the reduction in gas by Russia as an economic attack on Germany, saying “This is a different dimension than before.”

Speaking at the “Industry Day” of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), the Green politician said “We are talking about the attack being carried out against us with energy as a weapon,” and “”This strategy must not be successful.”

He explained Putin was cutting gas supplies to drive up prices and cause panic.

Federal Minister of Economy Robert Habeck has been one of the key proponents of the energy sanctions against Russia.

Speaking in the Monday evening ZDF program “heute-journal” on 2 May 2022, he said he has “worked hard” to ensure that the energy sanctions would not pose problems for Germany.

“In any case, it shouldn’t fail because of us,” said Habeck, adding Germany has made “great progress” in becoming independent of Russia when it comes to coal and oil.

He stated his message to Russia was: ”As long as the war lasts, we will no longer buy your fossil fuels.”

Sanctions Blowback

But Germany continues to depend heavily on Russian gas, a reality which is now evolving into a crisis situation for the federal coalition government. Economy Minister Habeck warned that the economic situation due to the reduction in energy supplies could get worse for months and even put companies out of business.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) has also raised the alarms.

Speaking in the “heute-journal” on ZDF, Lindner said, “My concern is that we could have a very worrying situation in a few weeks and months,”

“It’s about three to four, maybe five years of scarcity. And we have to find an answer for that.”

He added: “There is a risk of a very serious economic crisis due to soaring energy prices, supply chain problems, also inflation.”

German Government Triggers Gas Emergency Level I

The situation is concerning enough that the federal coalition government has triggered the first warning level in the country’s three-level gas emergency plan.

Economy Minister Habeck has said gas storage facilities are only at about 60 percent. Full storage capacity is required for Germany to go through winter.
A “gas crisis team” is working on being able to react to further delivery restrictions or failures.

The federal government has previously called on citizens and industry to save energy in light of the reduced gas supplies from Russia. Economy Minister Habeck asked to take fewer showers, but not to “stink”.

The effects of the sanctions against Russia have been significant for German consumers, who are having to bear the highest energy prices in Europe. Germany’s carbon tax has also inflated energy prices.

If the energy crisis persists, Germany’s Federal Network Agency could intervene in the market in the third stage to ration supplies.

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