German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says the European Union won’t give in to Moscow’s “blackmailing” after Gazprom announced another large reduction in gas supplied through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline linking Russia and Germany.
Speaking to RFE/RL in an interview on July 26, Baerbock said Germany and the EU see Russia’s tactic as another attempt to divide the EU, one that will be unsuccessful because Europe is united like never before and understands that it must end its dependence on Russian energy.
“We want to get independent 100 percent — independence from fossil energy from Russia as fast as we can,” she said, adding that Europe intends to stay on this path.
Baerbock made the comments a day after the Russian state-owned energy giant said it would cut flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to one-fifth of capacity from July 27.
Gazprom made the announcement just days after resuming gas flows through the pipeline after a 10-day maintenance break, but only at 40 percent of the pipeline’s capacity. It said it was forced to lower the volume because of the delayed return of a turbine that was sent to Canada for maintenance.
Gazprom blamed the latest reduction on the need to halt the operation of another turbine at a compressor station on the Russian end of the pipeline.
Both Germany and the EU have said there is no technical justification for slowing the flow of gas. They say Russia’s moves are politically motivated and are linked to EU sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Baerbock said the turbine maintenance was another example of how Russia tries “every kind of tool and trick” to divide Europe, and Europe has to stick together.
She also said that if Russia cuts off the gas flow completely through Nord Stream 1, there is “no doubt at all” that Germany will continue its sanctions policy toward Russia.
Europe banned Russian coal imports beginning on August 1, and most oil imports are to end by December 31.
Baerbock also discussed Germany’s supply of high-powered weapons to Ukraine, saying there is no lack of political will in Berlin to deliver them. She said Germany initially was in a poor position to supply modern arms to Ukraine because it “did the worst you can ever imagine” with keeping its military stocks up to date during peace time.
The criticism Germany faced over being slow to provide military support went to her heart, she said, and “this is why we try to get better.”
Germany is now delivering artillery, including howitzers, and has helped train Ukrainian forces. She added that Germany hopes to deliver an air-defense system by the beginning of September.
The top German diplomat also commented on Bosnia-Herzegovina’s hopes to join the EU after some frustration in the country when Ukraine and Moldova were granted candidate status. She noted that “nationalistic rhetoric is coming up again” in the country, but said she believes young Bosnians want unity among the country’s ethnic groups and a chance to live together and build a future together.
On Afghanistan, she said sending military support to the armed resistance opposing the Taliban “is not on the agenda.” She said the country is suffering a humanitarian disaster and that Germany is one of the largest donors of aid to help alleviate the situation, but there is no contact with the Taliban-led government.
Germany must support the people of Afghanistan and continue bringing out people whose lives are endangered because of their past work for the coalition and Western governments, she said.
She also underscored that women in Afghanistan are experiencing “the biggest violation of women’s rights on Earth” and there must therefore be a special focus on women and girls, whose lives “stopped” when the Taliban took over.