Germany blames Russian ‘economic attack’ for gas alarm
'The risk of full gas disruption is now more real than ever before'
Germany triggered the “alarm stage” of its emergency gas plan on Thursday in response to decreasing Russian supplies, the latest sign of gas disruption in Europe’s largest economy.
The measure is the latest escalation in a standoff between Europe and Moscow since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exposed the European Union’s dependency on Russian gas, sparking a frantic search for alternative energy sources.
Although the step is largely symbolic, it marks a major shift for Germany, which cultivated strong energy ties with Moscow dating back to the Cold War.
Lower gas flows sparked warnings that Germany could fall into recession if Russian supplies ceased altogether.
"We must not fool ourselves: The cut in gas supplies is an economic attack on us by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin," German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said.
“Gas rationing would hopefully be avoided but cannot be ruled out,” he noted.
"From now on, gas is a scarce commodity in Germany... We are therefore now obliged to reduce gas consumption.”
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Russia denies that the supply cuts were deliberate, with state supplier Gazprom blaming a delay in the return of serviced equipment caused by Western sanctions.
Berlin announced a $15.76 billion credit line to fill gas storage and launch a gad auction model to encourage industrial users to save gas.
The International Energy Agency also warned earlier this week that Russia could cut off gas to Europe entirely to bolster its political leverage.
“The risk of full gas disruption is now more real than ever before,” said the EU’s climate policy chief Frans Timmermans, who noted that other member states issued an “early warning” on gas supply.