German economy minister defies Nord Stream 2 sanctions, says more Russian gas needed
The importance of Russian gas for Germany is set to grow further amid the latter country's energy transition, economy minister Peter Altmaier said at a German-Russian industry conference in Berlin. The German government is "determined and ready" to intensify trade with Russia despite difficulties with the government in Moscow in other policy areas, he added. According to newspaper Die Welt, Altmaier said he regrets the decision by the US government to impose sanctions on the controversial gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2, stressing that Germany is going to "need more natural gas, not less" as it phases out coal-fired power production over the next years. The minister said Russian gas would also play a part in Germany's highly-anticipated hydrogen strategy, where 'blue hydrogen' made with natural gas could supplement 'green hydrogen' made with renewables.
At the Munich Security Conference the weekend before, U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo renewed his government's criticism of the pipeline project, which the U.S. believes will make Europe too dependent on Russian energy supplies. Construction of the pipeline has been delayed by sanctions imposed by the U.S. Congress in December 2019, a move criticised by Chancellor Angela Merkel.