Germany’s economy and climate minister, Robert Habeck, said on May 1 that the nation is making progress in cutting its reliance on Russian fossil fuels and expects to be fully independent of Russian crude oil imports by the end of summer.
The Economy and Climate Ministry said on Twitter that the goal was “realistic,” while noting that the nation had already reduced its share of Russian energy imports to 12 percent for oil, 8 percent for coal, and 35 percent for natural gas since the beginning of the year.
“All these steps that we are taking require an enormous joint effort from all actors and they also mean costs that are felt by both the economy and consumers,” Habeck said in a statement. “But they are necessary if we no longer want to be blackmailed by Russia.”
Germany has managed to shift to oil and coal procurement from other countries in a relatively short time, meaning “complete independence from Russian crude oil imports by late summer is therefore realistic,” Habeck’s ministry said.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has been under growing pressure from Ukraine and other nations to cut its energy imports from Russia.
Energy prices have surged nearly 40 percent in the European nation, which purchases about 25 percent of its oil and 40 percent of its gas from Russia, leaving officials reluctant to cut such imports.
While its share of natural gas imports from Russia has dropped to 35 percent since the invasion of Ukraine, in part due to increased procurement from Norway and the Netherlands, the German central bank has said cutting the country off from Russian oil completely could have economic consequences in the form of higher inflation and a decline in the country’s economic output of roughly 5 percent.
However, critics argue that the lucrative energy payments are serving to further bolster President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Currently, the EU pays Russia $850 million per day for oil and natural gas.
But a survey by the Ifo Institute on May 2 found that fewer German companies feared for their survival than before the war in Ukraine, despite the economic risks posed by the war.
According to the institute, 7.1 percent of the nearly 8,500 companies surveyed felt their existence was threatened, almost half the proportion found in the previous survey in January, when it was 13.7 percent.
To further reduce Russian imports, Germany plans to accelerate the construction of terminals for liquified natural gas (LNG), but noted that this requires “an enormous joint effort” that will also incur “costs that the economy and consumers feel.”
Habeck’s comments come as the European Union considers an embargo on Russian oil as part of a sixth sanctions package against the country.
European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told The Times of London last week that EU nations are considering “some form of an oil embargo” but that it needs to be delivered “in a way that maximizes pressure on Russia while minimizing collateral damage on ourselves.”
Meanwhile, on April 26, Russia’s energy giant Gazprom switched off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after the two countries didn’t pay in rubles.
The Saint Petersburg-headquartered company noted that “payments for gas delivered since 1 April must be made in rubles,” as dictated by Putin, and that both nations had been notified of this “in a timely manner.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.