Germany has made significant headway already in cutting its dependence on Russian fossil fuels since the start of the Ukrainian invasion in February, officials said Sunday.
Germany has been seen as a potential weak link in the Western campaign to shut down the Russian economy and shut off essential funding for the campaign in Ukraine.
Europe’s largest economy has long been heavily dependent on Russian energy exports, and had been looking to expand supplies before the crisis in Ukraine broke out.
But new government figures out this weekend say Russian oil imports, once 35% of Germany‘s supply, are down to 12%, while natural gas imports from Russia have fallen from a 55% share to about 35%.
Russian coal imports, which accounted for half the German market, are down to 8%, Berlin said.
“All of these steps that we are taking require an enormous joint effort by all those involved, and they also mean costs that both the economy and consumers feel,” Economics and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck told Der Spiegel. “But they are necessary if we no longer want to be blackmailed by Russia.”
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Along with new energy-saving measures, German officials said the share of Russian natural gas in domestic consumption could be down to 30% by the end of the year.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz continues to face criticism from opposition leaders for not doing enough to stand up to Russia and for not going far enough to aid Ukraine military defenses. Berlin has balked at a more extensive embargo of Russian energy exports that Ukraine and some Western allies have called for.
“I am making my decisions quickly and in conjunction with our allies.” He said that “overhasty actions and Germany going it alone” would be viewed with suspicion.
In an interview Sunday with the tabloid Bild am Sonntag, the new chancellor said he would not bow to pressure to take rash action and that it was more important to coordinate with allies on the best strategy to help Ukraine and contain Russia.
“I am not fearful enough to allow myself to be affected by such accusations,” he told reporters Sunday. “You should notice opinion polls but you should not make your actions dependent on them. Especially regarding questions of war and peace, this would be immensely dangerous.”