June 24, 2022

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Germany is Dependent on Russian Gas, Oil and Coal: Here’s Why

2 min read

Last year, Russia supplied more than half of the natural gas and about a third of all the oil that Germany burned to heat homes, power factories and fuel cars, buses and trucks. Roughly half of Germany’s coal imports, which are essential to its steel manufacturing, came from Russia.

Russian gas, oil and coal are embedded in the German economy and way of life. The roots run deep.

The first natural gas pipeline connecting what was then West Germany to Siberia was completed in the early 1980s. The legacy of the Cold War can still been seen in the energy infrastructure in Germany’s east, which remains directly linked to Russia, making it harder to get oil from other providers into that part of the country.

Today, those entanglements loom large as European leaders debate whether energy should be included in more sanctions on Russia amid growing evidence of atrocities committed by Russian troops against Ukrainian civilians. Officials in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, are caught between outrage at Russia’s aggression and their continuing need for the country’s essential commodities.

“It was a mistake that Germany became so heavily dependent on energy imports from Russia,” Christian Lindner, Germany’s finance minister, said Tuesday, heading in to talks with his European Union colleagues in Luxembourg.

But as evidence of suspected atrocities mounted, he indicated that Germany would be willing to support sanctions on Russian coal — a shift from Berlin’s insistence over the past weeks that sanctioning energy would hurt Germany more than Russia.

From the heads of leading chemical and steel companies to the makers of gummy bears, business leaders have warned that without a steady supply of gas, oil and coal, their production would grind to a halt.

Nearly half of all German homes are heated with natural gas, which is also used to generate power including in heavy industry. Germany’s powerful labor unions in…

Melissa Eddy

2022-04-05 08:09:55

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