Germany offers a number of reasons why it cannot stop buying Russian oil and natural gas

Germany has been criticized by its Western European and American allies for its reluctance to sever trade ties with Russia.

Despite criticism from Ukraine and the West, President Olaf Scholes and his government have maintained that Germany will buy billions of dollars worth of natural gas and oil from Russia every week in order to keep German car companies and factories operating at full capacity in the future. They argue that the $ 220 million that Germany sends to Moscow every day for Russian energy is at least indirectly used to fund its war against Ukraine.

In an interview with German television on Sunday evening, German Economy and Energy Minister Robert Hebeck said, “We are pursuing a strategy of freeing ourselves from Russian gas, coal and oil, but not right now.” Two hours later, the leader of the Sholes Social Democrats expanded this sentiment.

“Russia’s immediate ban on natural gas is the wrong way to go,” Lars Klingfeel said in another German television talk show.

Germany relies on Russian energy for half of its energy needs.

In addition to criticism from the United States and Ukraine, this week others, including Poland, lashed out at Germany for not acknowledging its role in the economic burden.

In an interview with Germany’s Wealth Sunday newspaper, Jaroslav Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s ruling law and justice party, called on Germany to stop buying oil and natural gas from Russia.

“You can not continue to support a major power like Russia, which pays billions from energy purchases,” Kaczynski said. “This is unacceptable from a political and moral point of view. It must end and Germany must finally take a clear stand on this.

Following Ukraine’s accusations of genocide in Pucha after Russian forces withdrew from the city, Russia’s firm refusal to ban oil and natural gas imports has become particularly serious for Germany – Europe’s center of economic power. Due to the humiliation of the Holocaust and its Nazi past, Germany’s action – or inaction – was subject to special scrutiny throughout Europe for its moral leadership in times of crisis.

Germany, which in part expected a peaceful solution to the conflict in response to the war of the last 20th century, faced widespread criticism even before the war began for its first refusal to send defensive weapons to Ukraine as the Russian invasion appeared. It also prevented the transfer of German-made weapons to Ukraine from other NATO members. Germany also faced criticism because it initially opposed the cutting of Russian banks from the SWIFT global banking network.

Lithuania on Sunday announced a ban on Russian energy imports, while Poland and Slovakia have called for swift action. Explanations such as the German government’s trade-off that Russia will not be able to stop importing energy until later this year – because of the risk that a embargo could send its economy into recession – resonated across Europe. The United States has said it will suspend all oil and energy imports from Russia in early March in retaliation for Russia’s occupation of Ukraine.

While Scholz’s government says Russia can not cut oil and natural gas immediately, others in Germany differ.

“We need to stop funding Putin’s war,” said Mariusz Beck, who, shortly after returning from a trip to Kiev, directed his views to the leaders of his Green Party and the ruling Social Democrats. “Ukraine does not have much time. We need to see how much more [economic pain] We can handle it. ”

Others in the Green Party have called for an immediate embargo.

Even after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the country, which has long deepened trade ties with Russia, is threatened with further tug-of-war on tough sanctions against Russia by Germany, further embarrassing it.

The previous German government, served by Scholz’s Social Democrats, approved a trade agreement with Russia in 2015 – a year after it took over Crimea – to double the volume of Russian gas imported through the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was completed last year. Critics say the pipeline was designed to avoid Ukraine and plunder billions of dollars in annual transportation costs.

“The message must be clear to the whole world, and especially to Germany – do not give Russia another cent, because it’s the blood money used to slaughter people,” Kiev’s mayor Vitaly Klitschko told the Bild newspaper on Monday. “We need an immediate ban on all oil and natural gas from Russia.”

Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk said the assassinations in Pucha strengthened Germany’s need to play a leading role in supporting Russian-Russian trade relations and Russia instead of focusing on its own economy.

“I hope this massacre serves as a red line for the German government so that it finally begins to act,” Melnick said. “That means an immediate ban on oil, natural gas, coal and metals. No one in Germany sees anything like this without doing anything and does not understand how to sleep at night. What is Germany going to do to act with severe sanctions? Chemical weapons attack? What are they waiting for? “

Scholes made the point in a German television interview last week with leading independent economists that an immediate embargo on Russian gas would slow but not paralyze the German economy. “They misunderstood everything,” Scholes said sharply. “Calculating some kind of mathematical model is irresponsible.”

The German chancellor noted that a large number of jobs were at stake, adding that “if we suddenly stop importing natural gas. [from Russia]That means the entire industry should be shut down.

Instead of banning Russian gas, German government leaders are considering plans to save energy, namely introducing maximum speed limits on expressways, extending the use of its last three nuclear power plants planned to collide this year. Use of coal burning power plants.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has often been the target of harsh criticism from Ukraine and its ambassador for being the winner of trade relations with Russia as a means of maintaining peace in Europe. Former Foreign Minister Steinmeier admitted on Monday that he had misrepresented Russia.

“We clung to the idea of ​​building bridges to Russia and our partners warned,” Steinmeier said, apologizing for his support of the Nortstream 2 pipeline, which warned Germany, especially the United States and much of Europe. Dependent on Russian natural gas. “We have failed to create a common Europe. We have failed to integrate Russia into our security framework. What I thought was wrong.”

In a speech on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized former President Angela Merkel and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, calling on Pucha to see firsthand what happens after Russia’s 14 years of concessions and opposition to Ukraine’s attempt to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. President George W. Bush. Despite support for Bush’s Kiev initiative.

“Former President Angela Merkel is adamant in her decision at the NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008,” Merkel’s spokesman said, citing opposition to Ukraine’s initiative.

Kirschbaum is a special correspondent.

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