AKIPRESS.COM - Germany triggered an emergency plan to brace for a potential Russian gas cut-off as President Vladimir Putin insists that the crucial fuel should be paid for in rubles, Bloomberg reports.
Europe’s largest economy, which relies on Russia for more than 50% of its natural gas, initiated the first of three phases of the plan, signaling there are serious signs the supply situation may deteriorate, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said Wednesday. The announcement comes as the Kremlin plans to tell European energy companies by Thursday how to pay for fuel in the Russian currency, even if the process of switching won’t begin immediately.
European countries from Germany to Italy have labeled the request a breach of contract and the standoff between Europe and Russia is threatening to upend energy markets. European gas prices surged as much as 15% after the German announcement, before easing as the Kremlin said it would take time before companies need to pay in rubles. German industries from steel to chemicals would shut down within a matter of weeks if Russia supplies were cut off.
“This is about monitoring the situation,” Habeck said at a press conference. “There are two more steps, the alarm and the emergency phase, but we are not there yet. The situation would have to worsen dramatically before we reach those stages. We would then practically need a change in the supply lines and would have to react accordingly.”