Russian energy giant Gazprom’s slashing of gas supplies to Europe amounts to an “attack on us” by Moscow, the German economy minister said Tuesday.
“The reduction of gas deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline is an attack on us, an economic attack on us,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck said in a speech to a German industry conference.
Gazprom said last week it would reduce supplies of the fuel to Germany via the pipeline due to delayed repairs, while the German government has called the decision “political”.
As a result of the cut, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, decided to reactivate mothballed coal power plants to reduce their gas consumption.
Germany has also mandated the filling of gas reserves to 90 percent ahead of the European winter, to hedge against a further reduction in supply.
“When we go into the winter with half full gas stores and the taps are turned off then we are talking about a difficult economic crisis in Germany,” Habeck said.
Currently, Germany’s gas storage capacity is just under 60 percent full.
“We have seen this pattern multiple times now,” Habeck said at the conference.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to “create chaos” in European gas markets by cutting off supply to Poland and Bulgaria among other European countries, the minister said.
Habeck called for the “diversification” of suppliers of raw materials and energy to achieve “a bit of independence from the malign intentions of the world’s dictators”.
Germany had a “system rivalry” with Russia and China, the minister said.
China was a “big market“, Habeck said, but urged industry to use trade to promote “our values”.