Saxony’s prime minister calls for ‘pragmatism’ in relations with Russia
Isolating Russia and ending economic cooperation with Moscow is dangerous for Germany, Prime Minister of Saxony Michael Kretschmer told Die Zeit newspaper this week, reiterating his call for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine.
“I think the idea of isolating Russia permanently or never again cooperating economically is absurd and dangerous… A Russia that is oriented towards China and has no ties to Europe is much more dangerous for us,” Kretschmer told the news outlet.
The official said he was concerned with the impact of the sanctions on Russia on the German economy and energy security. He called for “pragmatism” in relations with Moscow and for the EU to facilitate peace talks and a “freeze” of the conflict in Ukraine, adding that a ceasefire would not only end the deaths, but “create an opportunity for the supply of raw materials,” most notably fossil fuels and grains.
Roughly half of German households rely on gas for electricity and heating, and around a third of the energy for German industry comes from gas. Prior to the conflict in Ukraine, up to one half of that gas was supplied by Russia. However, deliveries have dropped in recent weeks due to either technical or political reasons.
According to Kretschmer, despite ambitious energy transition plans and political agendas, Germany will need gas supplies from Russia for the next five years at least.
“If we realize that we cannot for now give up on Russian gas, then it is bitter but it is the reality, and we must act accordingly,” Kretschmer said, adding that apart from ordinary residents who will not be able to heat their homes in the winter, German industry is at risk if Russian gas supplies are lost.
“Our entire economic system is in danger of collapsing. If we are not careful, Germany could become de-industrialised,” he stated. Last month, Kretschmer said that Germany needs to ensure reliable fuel supplies before slapping Russia with sanctions.
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