Germany preparing to cut Russian energy supplies: Scholz
Germany is seeking to put an end to its dependence on Russian energy imports in light of the Ukraine crisis, while also holding talks with Finland and Sweden on European security.
Germany has been preparing to decrease its reliance on Russian energy resources since December, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday, revealing that his country would be able to abandon Russian coal by autumn.
"We are united in our desire to become independent of fossil imports. We also know that this will last differently in individual countries, depending on the extent of dependence," the German leader underlined.
"Germany began preparing for such a situation back in December. So we can give up coal in the fall," Scholz said following a meeting with the prime ministers of Sweden and Finland.
Berlin is also working towards being able to abandon Russian oil and establish the infrastructure that allows Germany to have the ability to import gas from other countries, Scholz said, stressing that the ultimate goal was forgoing fossil energy altogether.
Berlin to discuss security with Sweden, Finland
Security-related issues will be on the agenda of a field session of the German cabinet, which started today with the participation of Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and her Finnish counterpart, Sanna Marin, Scholz revealed.
"Among the guests, today are the prime ministers of Sweden and Finland. They are close allies of our country and close partners within the EU," Scholz said.
He also explained that it was extremely important to discuss issues related to security and relevant for Europe, Finland, Sweden, and Germany.
He also highlighted that the field session would handle issues related to the impact of the economic challenges posed by the Ukraine crisis in addition to "the major transformation caused by climate change."
The Ukraine crisis has sparked debates in Sweden and Finland regarding changes in the security situation in Europe and putting on the table the abandonment of the two countries' decades of neutrality and joining NATO.
The past two months saw Andersson and Marin instigating high-level discussions at home and abroad regarding the terms and repercussions of applying for accession to NATO, with the allies voicing their support.
The United States officials said that NATO membership for both Nordic countries was "a topic of conversation and multiple sessions" during talks between the alliance's foreign ministers last week attended by Sweden and Finland, the report added.
Finland is prepared to make a possibly historic choice on whether to apply to join NATO as a "deterrence to Russian acts" before midsummer.
Earlier, Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson revealed that she hadn't ruled out NATO membership in the wake of the war in Ukraine, after having insisted until now on her country's policy of military non-alliance.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in early March that the alliance will gladly welcome Finland and Sweden and will provide them with an opportunity to fast-track the joining procedure.
He also pledged last week to ascertain the arrangements that NATO could provide to ensure the security of Finland and Sweden during the interim period until they become the full members of the alliance.
Russia has criticized accusations that it posed a threat to the two countries discussing a possible NATO membership in light of regional tensions.
Zakharova argued that the Scandinavian politicians advocating for joining NATO serve not the interests of their people but rather the interests of the US.
And though Moscow opposes the alliance's expansion, it does not see the accession of Finland and Sweden into the bloc as an existential threat, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov underlined, Russia will work on its Western flank to make it more sophisticated in terms of security in the face of NATO creeping in on its northern borders.