Germany can become independent from Russian coal by autumn, virtually independent from the country’s oil by the end of 2022, and largely do without its natural gas by summer 2024, according to economy and climate minister Robert Habeck.

However, presenting an update on Germany’s energy supply security and the status of dependence on Russian deliveries, the Green Party politician reiterated the government’s stance that it is too early for an immediate energy embargo.

“Companies are letting contracts with Russian suppliers expire, not renewing them and switching to other suppliers,” Habeck told journalists in Berlin. “And at an incredible pace.”

Habeck commended the “great unity” of European states and transatlantic partners in their efforts to become independent from Russian energy. It is this unity that would help “put a stop to Putin’s game.”

As Habeck spoke in Berlin, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and U.S. President Joe Biden announced a deal that would see the U.S. deliver an additional 15 billion cubic metres (bcm) of LNG to the EU in 2022.

In the midst of the Energiewende, Germany still relies heavily on imports of fossil fuels. In 2021, about 35 percent of crude oil, 55 per cent of natural gas and almost half of hard coal imports came from Russia.

Due to this dependence, chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly warned of a sudden halt of deliveries from Russia, saying this would plunge Germany and Europe into a recession.

“We don’t have to let ourselves be blackmailed”

According to the government’s “Energy Security Progress Report,” oil imports from Russia will be halved by mid-2022 and the share of hard coal imports reduced from 50 to 25 percent already in the coming weeks.

The share of natural gas supplies from Russia sank to about 40 percent by the end of the first quarter 2022 (55% for full 2021), said the report. This happened thanks to increased pipeline supplies from Norway and the Netherlands, and via LNG contracts, but came at a high cost, as prices for gas have increased substantially in recent months.

Habeck reiterated that it was too early for an all-out embargo on Russian energy supplies, but that this did not mean that the government was not preparing to stop these supplies. He said it would make “a big difference” whether the government decided to introduce such a step, or whether the Russian president halted supplies.

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