Not everyone in Germany shares the optimism of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who plans to abandon energy imports from Russia as early as 2022, including the Chief Executive Officer of E.ON, Germany’s largest energy company, Leonard Birnbaum, who said that there is no alternative to Russian gas in the country, and it will take at least three years to find new sources of fuel supplies.
The German government, the European Union and the G7 have refused the Russian proposal of paying Rubles for gas. According to them, the original contracts fixed the payment for gas in reserve currencies.
The Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed that there would be no free supplies of Russian gas to foreign consumers.
Since then, the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline has stopped its operation. The physical flows of gas have fallen to zero, Reuters reports, citing information from the German gas operator Gascade. At the same time, two other Russian pipelines in Germany continue to operate as usual, the journalists said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin does not have to turn the tap on now since it makes no sense for Russia to supply gas to Europe for foreign currency, euros and dollars, in the current conditions. Europe can take Moscow to arbitration, but the process will take months, and Europe, especially Germany, will suffer.
Choosing between the U.S and German citizens
Former Bundestag deputy Waldemar Gerdt commented on the decision of the President of Russia to transfer payments under contracts for gas supplies into rubles. This decision applies only to unfriendly states, which, in particular, include all states that are members of the European Union.
According to Waldemar Gerdt, it is not a problem for Germany to switch to paying for deliveries in rubles from a technical point of view. The main issues for the Western elites lie in politics since Berlin and Brussels have supported Washington’s sanctions policy against Russia for many years.
According to the former deputy of the Bundestag, “with our sanctions, we have built a barrier for ourselves, which we ourselves cannot now jump over without losing our political face.”
“The ingenious economic move [roubles for gas, Ed.] is understandable. The strengthening of the ruble is also understandable. But here we are not even talking about gas itself, not even about the dollar, which dominated and plundered all nations for centuries,” Gerdt said on the air of the Time Will Show program.
In his opinion, Russia has put Germany, and the rest of the European Union before a choice between the survival of the population of Europe and subordination to the American dollar dictate. He also believes that his country is on the brink of economic collapse. And in the event of a rapid increase in popular discontent, the authorities will have no options other than buying gas for rubles.
“To go according to the plan proposed by Russia means to abandon that quasi-genius idea of the American printing press, when you don’t have to produce anything – you can just buy paper and paint, and the whole world buys your candy wrappers. This has been working for more than a century. Now this machine is starting to break down, which causes huge shock and serious hesitation,” Gerdt said.
Germany cranks up the emergency measures
The Federal Minister of Economics, Robert Habeck, has activated the early warning stage of the so-called gas emergency plan. “There are currently no supply bottlenecks,” said the Green politician. “Nevertheless, we must increase precautionary measures.” He did not elaborate on the emergency measures, but he said ‘a crisis management team’ has taken charge.
As per the minister, the overall supply of all German gas consumers is currently still guaranteed. “Nevertheless, from now on, every gas consumer – from business to private households – is also required to reduce their consumption as much as possible,” he said.
As per the German media, there are three crisis levels in the emergency plan. The early warning level means that there are “concrete, serious and reliable indications” that an event may occur which is likely to lead to a significant deterioration in the gas supply situation – and is expected to trigger the alert and then the emergency level.
There would be a ‘significant disruption’ to the gas supply at the emergency level. The state would have to intervene to ensure the gas supply to “protected customers” – these are private households, hospitals, fire brigades, and the police.
How do the Germans perceive the restrictions?
The comment section of the German media has some interesting reactions from the readers, which give a good indication of the public support for the move.
“Somehow, the West doesn’t really want to accept that every sanction can and will be counter-sanctioned,” wrote a user.
“Unfortunately, I am not willing to give up prosperity for Ukraine or the Left/Greens. This has nothing to do with egoism but with realism. Our Exalted Politicians must use diplomacy, not crowbar methods. You can’t get any further,” wrote another user.
“Habeck is a good man, he’ll do it. It must have absolute priority that the EU and Germany do not cave in to Putin. No matter what. If that means restrictions for me, then so be it,” wrote a user supporting the government.
“One must not give in to blackmailers. Putin only understands the strategy of strength. On the other hand, this is a temporary waiver. If you don’t recognize the signs of the times yourself, you just have to have it imposed on you by others. What was Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev’s saying: Whoever comes too late is punished by life,” writes a user.
“What will cause inconvenience to other states can break the back of the German economy because the sanctions are moving along a boomerang trajectory,” wrote one of the commentators.
“The most stupid decision in the entire existence of Germany. In terms of energy policy, the coalition government pushed the German population into the abyss!” said another.