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There’s no time to waste to slow Russia’s efforts

German officials made a surprising announcement in the wake of what has been described as “energy blackmail” by Russia. According to Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck, the country believes it can be independent of Russian fossil fuels by the end of the summer. It already has reduced the share of Russian energy imports to 12 percent for oil, 8 percent for coal and 35 percent for natural gas.

But there is a big “if” in Germany’s plans.

“All these steps that we are taking require an enormous joint effort from all actors, and they also mean costs that are felt by both the economy and consumers,” Habeck said. “But they are necessary if we no loner want to be blackmailed by Russia.”

Though this particular discussion did not include whether Germany plans to lean more heavily on renewable energy sources or its six nuclear power plants, Habeck did say over and over the plan will require commitment from other parties.

Coal and oil can be acquired from other countries, and if those countries cooperate and the logistics work out, “the end of dependence on Russian crude oil imports by late summer is realistic.” Natural gas supply will be a more difficult challenge.

But it appears as though Germany and its people are willing to do the work and make some sacrifices in the name of cutting off Vladimir Putin’s funding. They are to be commended; and U.S. energy officials should take notes, as they work to quickly transition their energy economy.

There is another question to be answered, however, as the end of August is more than three months away. Will Putin have finished the job in Ukraine by then?

European governments — and the U.S. — might not have the luxury of waiting around for economic measures to do any damage to Russia’s effort. The time for tough decision-making, and perhaps real sacrifice by all who support Ukraine, is rapidly approaching.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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