'Difficult days' ahead for Germany: President
The economic repercussions of the Western sanctions against Russia on the West in itself are growing, with Germany's president calling on his people to try to adopt austere measures.
Difficult times are ahead of Germans, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, warning that the economic repercussions of the Ukraine crisis "have only just begun."
"We have difficult days ahead of us. And we have to be ready to face them if we don’t want solidarity to remain just words," Steinmeier said in a speech on Sunday.
The German president stressed that the simple truth is that "the hardest is yet to come," despite all ongoing diplomatic efforts, calling on the Germans to be prepared to stand their ground and adhere to austerity.
Russian gas imports make for half of the German market, and it is currently working on reducing its dependence on Moscow for energy. However, unlike its NATO allies, the United States and the United Kingdom, Berlin warned that the process of abandoning Russian energy supplies will be a lengthy one, arguing that the country could not afford an immediate ban on imports.
The government has tried to mitigate the effects of surging fuel prices, reducing taxes, and providing financial aid for citizens and businesses.
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The sanctions the EU is trying to impose on Russia are over its special military operation in Ukraine, launched due to NATO's eastward expansion, the Ukrainian shelling of Donbass, and the killing of the people of the Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic, in addition to Moscow wanting to "denazify" and demilitarize Ukraine.
In response, the US and its allies have rolled out comprehensive sanctions, including restrictions on the Russian central bank, export control measures, SWIFT cutoff for select banks, and closure of airspace to all Russian flights. Many of their companies have suspended their Russian operations.
The status-quo and the sanctions on Russia have weakened the purchasing power of western citizens, causing fuel prices to soar in the country with US oil prices reaching their all-time high.