Russian President Vladimir Putin.Figure: Retrieved from the Russian President’s Twitter
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine was criticized by the international community, and Europe and the United States immediately imposed severe sanctions. However, Europe is extremely dependent on Russian natural gas for heating and power generation. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently asked “unfriendly countries” to switch to rubles to pay for Russian natural gas. And Energy Minister Harbeck bluntly said that Putin made such a request after he had no other way out.
The G7 members include seven major industrial countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Japan, Canada, and Germany. Germany is the rotating presidency this year. Robert Habeck said after the G7 energy ministers meeting that G7 members agreed that Russia’s request to pay for natural gas in rubles was “a unilateral decision and a clear breach of contract” and that relevant companies must abide by the contract, and that paying in rubles is “a unilateral decision”. unacceptable thing”.
Putin announced last week that “unfriendly countries” must switch to paying for Russian gas in rubles. “Unfriendly countries” refer to countries involved in sanctions against Russia. All G7 and EU member states are on the list. And countries buy natural gas from Russia, usually in euros or dollars. Harbeck pointed out that Putin was desperate to make such a request. He emphasized that the G7 was united and would not be divided by Putin.
However, European countries are highly dependent on Russia’s natural gas. If Russia interrupts the supply on the grounds that it is not paying in rubles, it will have an impact on the people’s livelihood and economy in Europe. In this regard, Harbeck pointed out that Germany has prepared for all possible situations. Russia’s dispatch of troops to Ukraine “destroys global peace and order” and is an unreliable supplier. It is necessary to reduce the supply of Russian natural gas, coal and crude oil. rely.
The energy relationship between Germany and Russia has lasted for half a century. At present, half of Germany’s natural gas and bituminous coal and 1/3 of its crude oil come from Russia. However, the Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 stimulated Germany to end its dependence on Russian energy. Bituminous coal and crude oil will no longer be imported from Russia before the end of this year, and natural gas is expected to get rid of its dependence on Russia in 2024.