Germany activates emergency gas plan to secure supply
Germany on Wednesday raised the alarm level under its emergency gas plan as fears rose that Russia could cut off supplies if Western countries refuse to make payments in rubles.
After G7 countries rejected the Russian demand, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said at a press conference he had called for the first "early warning" alert level under the plan, establishing a crisis team in the ministry to monitor the situation.
Habeck said it was a precautionary measure and that the security of supply of gas in Germany continues to be guaranteed. According to the emergency warning plan, there are three crisis levels.
"There are currently no supply bottlenecks," Habeck said in a statement. "Nevertheless, we must increase precautionary measures in order to be prepared in the event of an escalation on the part of Russia."
Gas reserves were currently at 25 percent of capacity, the minister said during a press conference, adding that a stop to deliveries from Russia would have "serious" consequences, though supplies continued to flow.
With the declaration of the early warning level, a crisis team has convened, he said.
"The crisis team is analysing and assessing the supply situation so that - if necessary - further measures can be taken to increase security of supply. The federal government is doing everything it can to continue to ensure security of supply in Germany."
Putin announced last week that Russia would only accept payments in rubles for natural gas deliveries to “unfriendly countries”, which includes all of the European Union.
But on Monday, Germany and other G7 countries agreed this demand was "not acceptable" and a breach of existing agreements.
The Kremlin reiterated on Tuesday that it will only be accepting payment in rubles for gas deliveries to the EU.
"We are not going to accept a breach of the private contracts" for gas deliveries, Habeck said in a press conference on Wednesday.
Germany is highly dependent on Russian gas for its energy needs, with 55 percent of its supplies being delivered along pipelines from the country before the invasion of Ukraine.
Since the outbreak of the war, Germany has accelerated plans to wean itself off Russian gas and diversify its supplies.