Germans are “shooting themselves in the foot” with the EU’s energy sanctions currently imposed on Russia and should re-enter discussions with the Kremlin over the launch of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to prevent an exacerbation of the energy crisis in the country, according to Klaus Ernst, a deputy of the German Left party.
In remarks offered to the Rheinische Post on Wednesday, the energy expert of the left-wing faction in the Bundestag deviated from the general European consensus that punitive action against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine are necessary, despite such a strategy inevitably leading to higher energy prices for European consumers.
Germany, a nation whose energy demand has for decades heavily relied upon Russian supply, has arguably been hit the hardest by EU sanctions on Russian oil — electricity prices have tripled in just a year and could rise further — and with Brussels now proposing sanctions on Russian gas supplies, Ernst has called for a change of tack in the country’s foreign policy.
Macron calls for energy sanctions against Russia, but Orbán warns it would crash the Hungarian economy
As France calls for Europe to join the U.S. and U.K. energy sanctions on Russia, other European leaders are less convinced
“The federal government must now do everything to ensure energy supplies,” Ernst told the publication. “We need to talk to Russia, despite the war breaking international law, about putting Nord Stream 2 into operation for a certain period of time, if gas supplies cannot be guaranteed in a different way,” he added.
The left-wing politician warned that “interruption in gas supplies could irreversibly damage the industrial backbone of Germany.”
“The energy sanctions are not working. On the contrary: Energy sanctions are beneficial for Russia. The explosion in the prices of raw materials such as oil and gas makes Russia earn more from selling energy than before,” Ernst added.
Hungarian PM Orbán calls for immediate ceasefire and peace talks, not further sanctions
The Hungarian prime minister offered his thoughts on Hungarian state radio following the NATO summit in Madrid
Such observations, regardless of Ernst’s political persuasion, are broadly in line with the policy line of Budapest, where the effectiveness of the currently imposed sanctions has often been questioned. However, such a move is likely to anger Kyiv and Warsaw, who have already questioned Germany’s commitment to punishing Russia adequately for its aggression in Ukraine and have advocated a hard-line approach to Russian sanctions.
The irony of Germany’s Left Party echoing the sentiments of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a man whose political philosophy they generally despise, should not be understated. As though taken verbatim from an Orbán speech, Ernst told the Rheinische Post: “We should only take measures that lead to an end to the war and do not harm our own citizens.”
Nord Stream 2 is a 1,200 km pipeline under the Baltic Sea, which will take gas from the Russian coast near St. Petersburg to Lubmin in Germany. Although completed in September 2021, the certification process for the pipeline was halted by German regulators at the request of Chancellor Olaf Scholz in reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.