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Germany triggers gas alarm, moves closer to rationing after Russia cuts supply

Robert Habeck Economy Minister for Germany. (Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Germany has triggered the second stage of its three-part emergency gas plan in response to Russia’s reducing supplies and accused Moscow of an “economic attack.”

The June 23 move, made under a plan meant to be activated when there is disruption or very high demand for gas, brought Europe’s largest economy a step closer to rationing gas but stopped short of allowing utilities to pass rising energy prices to customers.

Germany and several other European countries are highly reliant on Russian energy imports to meet their needs.

“Gas is now a scarce commodity in Germany,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters at a press conference.

The development reflected a “significant deterioration of the gas-supply situation,” Habeck said.

Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom last week reduced supplies to Germany via the Nord Stream pipeline by 60 percent due to what the company said was repair work.

But Germany rejected the technical justification for the move.

“Even if gas quantities can currently still be procured on the market and stored: The situation is serious and winter will come. We mustn’t delude ourselves: Cutting gas supplies is an economic attack on us by Putin. It is clearly Putin’s strategy to create insecurity, drive up prices, and divide us as a society,” Habeck said.

Gas rationing would hopefully be avoided but cannot be ruled out, Habeck said.

The German government will provide 15 billion euros ($15.8 billion) in loans in an attempt to fill gas storage facilities.

It will also start to auction gas to industry to encourage big businesses to use less.

Gazprom has already stopped deliveries to a number of European countries, including Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, and the Netherlands.