German government urges people to save energy to ‘annoy’ Putin | Ukraine and Russia

Germany’s Deputy Chancellor (Premier) Robert Habeck urged his country’s people to save energy and avoid using cars to help reduce Germany’s dependence on imported Russian oil and gas.

“If you can ride a train or a bike over Easter, that’s good too: it’s good for the pocket and it irritates (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” said Habeck, who is also the economy minister and co-leader of the Green Party.

Germany has resisted European calls for a ban on Russian energy imports because of the Ukraine war.

This has drawn criticism from the Ukrainian government, which argues that buying fuel from Russia helps finance the invasion of the country.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with the BBC that he thinks Russia does not need to get serious about peace talks because of the billions of dollars it receives from its oil exports.

Although German imports have fallen this year, the country still receives 25% of its oil supply and 40% of its gas from Russia. And 90% of the cars in the Berlin region are fueled by the Russian-owned Schwedt refinery.

Earlier this week, German economic institutes warned that an immediate ban on imports from Russia would cause a recession in Europe’s biggest economy in 2023.

But amid the pressure, German Chancellor (Premier) Olaf Scholz indicated that Germany could end up deciding on a suspension by the end of this year. The German government also suspended the opening of a major Russian gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, in response to the war.

However, some members of his coalition accuse him of not showing enough leadership.

In an interview with the German press, Minister Habeck stated that each German can do his part in the resistance to Russia, reducing his energy consumption by 10%.

This may cause discomfort in heating, but no one will freeze, he said – as the months of more severe cold have passed.

‘Paying the price with people’s lives’

Some partners in Scholz’s coalition are also pressing him to send more heavy weapons to the Ukrainians.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has appealed to Berlin to decide quickly on whether to send this artillery. “Germany has a leading role in Europe and we are counting on that,” he told a German broadcaster. “We are paying the price with our people’s lives.”

However, the German government claimed that it had already sent all it could without affecting its troops’ own military capability.

German manufacturer Rheinmetall offered to send Leopard 1 main battle tanks, but Habeck said they would have to be refurbished, which would take months.

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