Recent image. German Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Paris, France on 7 February 2022. (Reuters).
On 19 March, German Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck left for Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in search for an alternative to Russian gas.
Speaking during a radio interview shortly before his departure to the two Gulf nations, Habeck said his trip was necessary in order to “establish a hydrogen partnership in the medium term.”
He explained that if Germany is unable to obtain sufficient gas in the winter and if gas deliveries from Russia are halted, there would not be enough gas to heat German houses or to maintain functioning industries.
Berlin is under increasing pressure from its NATO allies to boycott Russian gas and oil due to Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine.
However, the German government has said that abandoning Russian gas, coal and oil abruptly and without a backup plan would hurt its economy more than it would hurt Moscow.
In a televised interview on 13 March, Habeck warned that a poorly planned boycott of Russian energy could lead to mass unemployment and poverty.
Germany depends on Russia for 55 percent of its gas, 52 percent of its coal and 34 percent of its mineral oil.
The US and other western nations have been pushing for a total boycott of Russian gas and oil. They claim that Moscow is using revenue from the oil and gas exports to fund the military operation in Ukraine.
They have, however, failed to provide clear alternatives to Russian energy. Attempts to rope in other countries, such as Qatar, to fill in the void created by the sanctions on the Russian energy industry have proved unsuccessful so far, as these countries do not have the capacity to replace Russian oil and gas in a short period of time.