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German Chancellor Scholz Says Berlin May Abandon Imports of Russian Coal and Oil This Year

© AFP 2023 / INA FASSBENDERThe picture shows a coal power plant of German energy giant RWE in Weisweiler, western Germany, on January 29, 2020.
The picture shows a coal power plant of German energy giant RWE in Weisweiler, western Germany, on January 29, 2020. - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.03.2022
Last week, the German chancellor warned that an immediate ban on Russian energy imports by Berlin would trigger an economic recession in Germany. Berlin is under pressure from a number of EU members to introduce such a ban as part of the West's anti-Russian sanctions over Moscow's ongoing special military operation in Ukraine.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz has suggested that Germany stopping imports of Russian coal and oil "can already happen this year".

Speaking to the German broadcaster ARD, he pledged that Berlin would also hammer out technical conditions so that his country can become independent of Russian gas imports "as quickly as possible".

The remarks echoed those made by German Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck on Saturday, when he said in an interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that Berlin plans to become independent of Russian coal by this fall, and almost abandon Russian oil by the end of the year.

"We work every day, indeed every day, and sometimes every night, to reduce dependence on Russian oil, coal, and gas. Every day, even every hour, we are one step closer to saying goodbye to Russian imports. If we succeed, then we will be independent of Russian coal by autumn, and by the end of the year we will be almost independent of Russian oil", Habeck said.

He stressed that abandoning Russian gas will be harder due to Germany having no capacities for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG).
At the same time, the minister asserted that there are no reasons to believe that Russia will stop energy exports, but Berlin is preparing "for every scenario".
Earlier last week, Habeck told reporters about the need for Germany to diversify energy supplies to abandon Russian imports. According to the German Economy Ministry, the share of Russian oil supplies to the country amounts to 35%, while the share of coal stands at about 50%.
He spoke as Chancellor Scholz told German lawmakers last Wednesday that Berlin would end its energy dependence on Moscow in due course but that cutting all ties right now would ride roughed over the German economy.

"We will end this dependence [on Russian oil, coal, and gas] as quickly as we can, but to do that from one day to the next would mean plunging our country and all of Europe into a recession", Scholz said, warning that "hundreds of thousands of jobs would be at risk, entire industries would be on the brink".

He then referred to a host of sanctions by the US and its allies imposed in response to Russia's ongoing special military operation in Ukraine. The latter aims to demilitarise and de­-Nazify the country and is only targeting its military infrastructure with high­-precision weapons. As part of the sanctions, the US banned all Russian energy imports.

"The truth is that the sanctions that have already been decided also hit many citizens hard, and not just at the gas pump", Scholz stated, arguing that sanctions "must not hit the European countries harder than the Russian leadership".

In a separate development on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow will demand that Europe start paying for gas supplies in roubles, as part of Russia's response to the "severe" sanctions by the West.
"I have decided to implement a set of measures to transfer payments for our gas supplies to unfriendly countries into Russian roubles", Putin said, ordering the changes to be implemented within a week. Russia deems all countries that have hit it with sanctions following its special op in Ukraine as "unfriendly".

Russia's Special Op in Ukraine

The Russian president ordered the start of a special military operation in Ukraine on 24 February following a request from the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR) to protect them from intensifying attacks by the Ukrainian armed forces.
Putin stated that Russia was left with no other choice but to intervene in order to render assistance to the newly-recognised Donbass republics, and that Moscow doesn't plan to occupy Ukraine. Russia's Defence Ministry, for its part, underscored that Ukrainian civilians are out of danger because the operation only targets the country's military infrastructure.
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