German minister wants people to ‘annoy Putin’ by cutting gas use

German economy minister Robert Habeck is urging compatriots to take steps to save on energy because it "annoys Putin", as the country aims to reduce its dependence on Russian gas over the Ukraine war.

Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck speaks in Berlin on Wednesday.
Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck speaking in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd von Jutrczenka

 Habeck said in an interview with the Funke newspaper group published on Friday that people can take “very simple” measures to reduce consumption.

“As a general rule, I would say that we can always save 10 percent” on energy, he said.

He suggested that people can make savings by closing curtains to avoid heat loss at night and lowering their temperature settings by one degree.

“I urge each and everyone to save on energy right now,” said Habeck, a Green Party politician who is also Germany’s climate minister.

READ ALSO: Why Germany has urged households and businesses to cut back on gas

“If over Easter we can ride a bike or take the train, that’s good, too. It spares your pocketbook and annoys Putin,” Habeck said.

Germany has resisted calls within the European Union to ban Russian gas, with leading economic institutes warning that it would send the country into a sharp recession.

Germany has reduced its share of Russian gas imports from 55 percent before the war to 40 percent.

Habeck said last week that it would likely take until mid-2024 for Europe’s top economy to wean itself off Russian deliveries.

READ ALSO: Germany activates emergency gas plan to secure supply

German officials have also triggered an emergency plan in anticipation of a gas shortage, which could result in gas rationing among households and businesses.

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Scholz says Germany to become biggest NATO force in Europe

Germany's investments in defence in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine will transform it into the biggest contributor to NATO in Europe, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday.

Scholz says Germany to become biggest NATO force in Europe

Alongside the United States, Germany is “certainly making the largest contribution” to NATO, Scholz said in an interview with the ARD broadcaster.

Speaking at the close of a summit of leaders from the Group of Seven rich democracies, Scholz said Germany was in the process of creating “the largest conventional army within the NATO framework in Europe”.

Days after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Scholz announced a 100-billion-euro ($105-billion) fund to beef up Germany’s military defences and offset decades of chronic underfunding.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Bundestag approves €100 billion fund to beef up defences

He also promised to meet NATO’s target of spending two percent of GDP on defence, answering years of criticism from close allies that Berlin was failing to contribute enough to the alliance.

Russia’s invasion had led to a renewed conviction “that we should spend more money on defence”, Scholz said.

“We will spend an average of around 70 to 80 billion euros a year on defence over the next few years,” he said, meaning “Germany is the country that invests the most in this”.

Scholz’s announcement in February was seen as a major policy shift, upending Germany’s traditionally cautious approach to defence as a result of its post-war guilt.

Germany had steadily reduced the size of its army since the end of the Cold War from around 500,000 at the time of reunification in 1990 to just 200,000.

NATO allies are from Tuesday gathering in Madrid for a summit, where the United States is expected to announce new long-term military deployments across Europe.