Germany triggered the “alarm stage” of its emergency gas plan today in response to falling Russian supplies.
But Germany stopped short of allowing utility companies to pass on the soaring energy costs to customers.
Germany’s economic ministry announced the second of three energy emergency phases, warning the country faces a high risk of long-term supply shortages because of Russia.
The measure comes as the latest escalation in an ongoing standoff between Europe and Russia. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, EU dependence on Russian gas supplies has been exposed and exploited, sparking frantic searches for alternative energy sources.
The decision was announced by Germany’s economy minister, and marks a stark shift for the country, which has cultivated strong energy ties with Moscow since the Cold War.
Germany could fall into a recession if Russian supplies halted altogether.
Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that the cut in gas supplies is an economic attack by Putin.
“”It is obviously Putin’s strategy to create insecurity, drive up prices and divide us as a society,” Habeck said.
Habeck encouraged Germans to reduce their energy consumption, saying that gas rationing would hopefully be avoided but cannot be ruled out.
Russia has denied that its reduction of gas supplies was premeditated. Instead, Russia blames a delay in return of serviced equipment caused by Western sanctions.
Germany said there has been a reduction in Russian gas deliveries since June 14 amid continued high prices on the gas market. If Russian gas deliveries continue to remain at the low level of 40 percent, a storage target of 90 percent by December would not be able to be reached without additional measures.
One of the “alarm phases” of the emergency plan enables utility firms to pass on the high gas prices to customers and thereby helps lower demand.