MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
- German minister says Russia wasted the leverage it had in the early stage of the conflict with Ukraine.
- Europe was heavily reliant on Russian gas, but countries have now diversified their supplies.
- This has weakened Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical leverage as the war drags on.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has wasted the opportunity to use his country’s gas supply leverage over Europe because nations are now successfully diversifying their energy supplies, according to Germany’s vice chancellor.
Robert Habeck, the German deputy head of government and economic minister, said at a press conference on Thursday that German had initially been left exposed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February due to its reliance on natural gas from Russia, supplied via the Nordstream 1 pipeline.
“The German problem, or the central European problem, was that half of our eggs were in the basket of Putin,” Habeck said at a joint press conference with the Norwegian prime minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, The Guardian reported. “He destroyed [those eggs].”
After the invasion of Ukraine there were fears of blackouts in Germany and other countries across Europe, as Russia drastically reduced its gas supplies amid sharp criticism of its aggression against its neighbor.
Before the conflict, Germany had relied on Russia for around 60% of its gas. Many other countries in Europe had similar heavy reliance.
But Germany’s scramble to secure alternative energy supplies has borne fruit, with the country switching to sources of energy including Liquefied Natural Gas, or LNG.
Habeck said that Germany was now “one-third done” with replacing Russian energy supplies through other means, and sounded a note of cautious optimism.
“Right now, I can say the storages in Germany are full, around 90%, we will withstand this winter, and the [gas] prices are going down,” he said.
As German and Norwegian ministers met, energy companies from the two countries announced a deal on Thursday to increase Germany’s supply of Norwegian blue hydrogen, a low carbon emissions hydrogen fuel, DW reported.