Germany will temporarily take control of the German subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, the government has announced in a move it said was necessary to secure energy supply and critical infrastructure amid growing distrust between Germany and Russia in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

Energy Minister Robert Habeck said Germany’s Bundesnetzagentur energy regulator would become the trustee of Gazprom Germania until September 30.

The move comes after Russia’s state-owned Gazprom said it was withdrawing from Gazprom Germania on April 1.

German Economy and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck attends a session of the lower house of parliament in Berlin on January 13.
German Economy and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck attends a session of the lower house of parliament in Berlin on January 13.

Habeck justified the move by citing the current “unclear” legal structure behind Gazprom Germania and a breach of its obligation to inform German authorities of ownership-changes reporting regulations.

“The government is doing what is necessary to ensure security of supplies in Germany, and that includes not exposing energy infrastructures in Germany to arbitrary decisions by the Kremlin,” Habeck said.

Under the interim arrangement, voting rights in Gazprom Germania will be transferred to the Bundesnetzagentur.

The energy regulator will be allowed to dismiss management members and appoint new ones, as well as “take all necessary measures to guarantee supplies,” Habeck said.

Germany has backed sweeping Western sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, but because of its heavy reliance on Russian energy imports, Berlin thus far has resisted pressure to boycott Russian oil and gas.

Calls for a German boycott of Russian oil and gas have grown louder at home and abroad following recent allegations of atrocities committed against civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.