Germany caves to EU pressure over Russian oil ban

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A Greenpeace activist holds a banner reading
A Greenpeace activist holds a banner reading

Germany has said it “won’t stand in the way” of an EU ban on Russian oil imports despite resisting the move for weeks over economic fears.

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck acknowledged the move “won’t come without pain” but said his country had made contingency plans to reduce its reliance on Russian oil.

“We will no longer experience a national catastrophe,” he told German media.

Germany had been reluctant to back an embargo due to its heavy dependence on Russian energy, though other EU nations have pressurised the Bundestag to tighten sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Any import ban would require unanimous approval from the EU’s 27 members.

Mr Habeck said that, while he supported the embargo, questions would persist about how to impose it “intelligently” to not prevent a large price spike affecting poorer countries.

Earlier this week, Mr Habeck said that the share of Russian oil in Germany’s imports had fallen to about 12 per cent, from 35 per cent before the invasion.

Moscow has been accused of “gas blackmail” after threatening to shut off supply if “unfriendly” countries do not make payments in both euros and roubles.

Russian supplier Gazprom cut gas supply to Poland for a short period on Tuesday, but deliveries have now resumed.

Poland’s climate minister Anna Moskwa told the country’s Polsat News broadcaster that the bloc should ban purchases of Russian gas altogether, but said Austria, Germany and Hungary were opposed to the move.

EU countries currently import 40 per cent of their gas from Russia but Brussels has announced plans to cut that by two thirds within a year.

The US has declared a complete ban on Russian oil, gas and coal imports while Britain has said it intends to phase out Russian oil by the end of the year, with gas to follow as soon as possible.

In other developments, Russia fired two missiles at Kyiv on Thursday evening and struck a residential building, injuring at least ten people.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the blasts had hit the central Shevchenko district.

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