German leader says Putin’s ‘scorched earth’ tactics will fail against Ukraine
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday said that Russian president Vladimir Putin was weaponizing energy and hunger but has failed to break the West’s unity and will not achieve his war aims through scorched earth tactics.
Speaking to the German parliament, he also said Germany had freed itself from dependence on Russian gas but was working to bring energy prices down, including by securing new gas delivery contracts from other countries.
Russia carried out more than 300 air strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities since October 10, causing blackouts and prompting Ukraine to introduce curbs on electricity usage for the first time since the Russian invasion in February.
"We will not let Moscow's latest escalation go unanswered ... Scorched earth tactics will not help Russia win the war. They will only strengthen the unity and resolve of Ukraine and its partners," Scholz told parliament.
Russia's defence ministry said on Thursday it was continuing to target Ukrainian energy infrastructure, a strategy it has stepped up since the appointment earlier this month of Sergei Surovikin, nicknamed "General Armageddon" by the Russian media because of his alleged toughness.
The EU must coordinate closely with other gas consumers
Scholz’s remarks came as leaders of the 27 EU countries met in Brussels to try to bring down energy prices, though persistent divisions between them mean the bloc is unlikely to manage to put a price cap on what it pays for gas.
While 15 countries including France and Poland push some form of a cap, they face strong opposition from Germany and the Netherlands - respectively Europe's biggest economy and gas buyer, and a major European gas trading hub.
Scholz said that a politically imposed gas price gap risked driving producers to sell their gas elsewhere, meaning the EU could receive less gas as a result.
"The EU must coordinate closely with other gas consumers like Japan and Korea so as not to be in competition with each other," he said.