The German chancellor said a Western embargo on Russian gas imports probably wouldn't end Putin's war in Ukraine

The German chancellor said a Western embargo on Russian gas imports probably wouldn't end Putin's war in Ukraine
Olaf Scholz (right) said an embargo on Russian gas exports would trigger a "dramatic economic crisis."Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images, Ben Stansall-WPA Pool/Getty Images
  • The German chancellor said an embargo on Russian gas imports probably wouldn't end the Ukraine war.
  • In an interview with Der Spiegel, published Friday, Olaf Scholz said it could trigger an economic crisis.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said a Western embargo on Russian gas imports probably won't stop Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine.

In an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel, published Friday, Scholz said: "I don't think that a gas embargo would stop the war. If Putin were open to economic arguments, he would never have started this insane war."

Germany, Europe's largest economy, is also the leading Western consumer of Russian gas. As such, Germany is under pressure to halt Russian energy imports, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying last week that European countries still buying Russian oil and gas were making money "out of blood."

Scholz's comments coincided with the publication Friday of a pessimistic economic forecast by Germany's central bank. It predicted the German economy would shrink 5% more than previously expected if an embargo on Russian energy imports were imposed, and other trade between the nations was suspended.

Scholz told Der Spiegel that avoiding an embargo on Russian gas was also about "avoiding a dramatic economic crisis, the loss of millions of jobs and of factories that would never open again."


He said: "That would have huge consequences for our country, for the whole of Europe, and would also severely impact the financing of Ukraine's reconstruction. So it's my responsibility to say: 'We can't allow that'."

Germany imported around two-thirds of its gas from Russia and other former Soviet Union states in 2020, according to the German federal network agency. Economists have estimated that Germany could lose 220 billion euros ($240 billion) in economic output, or 6.5% of its gross domestic product, over the next two years if Russian gas imports were halted. The CEO of Deutsche Bank has said a recession in Germany would be "virtually unavoidable" in such a scenario.

The European Commission has proposed cutting EU demand for Russian gas by two-thirds before the end of the year under a plan to diversify supplies. The EU has agreed to stop imports of Russian coal starting later this year, but hasn't yet announced an embargo on gas or oil.

Germany said it expected to halve its Russian oil imports by mid-2022 and be "virtually independent" by the end of the year. It predicted a slightly faster trajectory for coal imports.

But winding down its reliance on Russian gas is harder, though the country's economy minister said Germany could become largely independent of Russian gas by 2024. In late February, Germany halted plans for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a route between Russian gas-production sites and mainland Europe.


Russia supplied around a third of the EU and UK's total natural gas demand in 2021, according to the International Energy Agency. It's also the world's second largest crude oil exporter, per the agency.