The German Foreign Minister: the EU will not surrender in the face of Russian ‘blackmail’ for gas
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the European Union will not give in to Moscow’s “blackmail” after Gazprom announced another major cut in gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which connects Russia to Germany.
In an interview with Radio Free Europe on July 26, Baerbock said that Germany and the EU see Russia’s tactic as another attempt to divide the EU.
According to her, this will be an unsuccessful attempt because Europe is united as never before and understands that it must end its dependence on Russian energy.
“We want to be 100 percent independent of Russia’s fossil fuel energy as soon as we can,” she said, adding that Europe intends to stay on this path.
Baerbock made the comments a day after Russian state energy giant Gazprom said it would cut supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to a fifth of capacity from July 27.
Gazprom announced the cut just days after it resumed the flow of gas through the pipeline following a 10-day maintenance shutdown, but only at 40 percent capacity. Russia said it was forced to reduce volume due to the delayed return of a turbine being serviced in Canada.
Both Germany and the EU have said there is no technical justification for slowing the flow of gas. They say Russia’s moves are politically motivated and linked to EU sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Baerbock said the turbine maintenance was another example of how Russia tries “all kinds of means and tricks” to divide Europe, but Europe must stay united.
She also said that if Russia completely cuts off the flow of gas through Nord Stream 1, “there is no doubt” that Germany will continue its policy of sanctions against Russia.
Europe banned Russian coal imports starting August 1, and most oil imports will end by December 31.
Baerbock also mentioned the supply of high-powered weapons to Ukraine, saying there is no lack of political will in Berlin to deliver them.
Of the criticism Germany faced in providing military support to Ukraine, she said “this is why we try to improve”.
Germany is now sending artillery, including howitzers, to Ukraine and has helped train Ukrainian forces. She said she hopes Germany will deliver an air defense system by early September
The top German diplomat also commented on Bosnia-Herzegovina’s hopes of joining the EU after some disappointments in the country when Ukraine and Moldova were granted candidate status.
She said “nationalist rhetoric is re-emerging” in the country, but said she believes young Bosnians want unity among the country’s ethnic groups and a chance to live and build a future together.
On Afghanistan, she said that sending military support to the armed resistance opposing the Taliban “is not on the agenda”.
According to her, the country is suffering from a humanitarian disaster and Germany is one of the biggest donors to help alleviate this situation, but has no contact with the Taliban-led government.
Germany should support the people of Afghanistan and continue to help evacuate people who are at risk because of their cooperation with Western governments, she said.
Baerbock also said that women in Afghanistan are experiencing “the greatest violation of women’s rights” and therefore there should be a special focus on women and girls whose lives were “stopped” when the Taliban took power. REL/