Berlin warns against waiving ‘a white flag’ at Russia

Germany must cut back on Moscow’s gas supply despite disruption fears, economy minister says

Germany will not revive Nord Stream 2, a pipeline built to deliver gas from Russia through the Baltic Sea, despite fears of supply disruptions, the country’s Economy Minister, Robert Habeck, has said.

Construction of Nord Stream 2 was completed last year, but Berlin halted its certification shortly after Russia launched its military campaign in Ukraine in late February.

Habeck told German broadcaster ZDF on Thursday that the country must conserve natural gas and continue decreasing its dependence on supplies from Russia.

He ruled out the use of Nord Stream 2 saying “It would be raising the white flag.”

Habeck’s comments come after Russian gas giant Gazprom resumed deliveries through Nord Stream 1 on Thursday following a 10-day shutdown for annual maintenance. Gazprom reduced the flow in the pipeline last month citing the repairs.

Some German officials suggested that the shutdown was politically motivated and voiced fears that Moscow could cut supplies entirely in response to the sanctions imposed by the EU over Ukraine. “We have to accept that [Vladimir] Putin is using this gas lever against us,” Habeck told ZDF, referring to the Russian president.

READ MORE: Ukraine should ‘confiscate’ Russian gas – politician

The EU earlier announced the phase-out of Russian gas by 2030, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, this week, urged the bloc’s members to slash their use of gas by 15% from August to the end of March. Spain, Portugal and Greece said they were opposed to the proposed gas rationing scheme.

Habeck has repeatedly warned that an immediate end of Russian gas supplies would badly hurt the German economy and lead to an increase in unemployment and poverty.

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