(Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of using natural gas deliveries as a political weapon following his country's invasion of Ukraine.
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The remarks come as Germany faces the prospects of further cuts in gas flows as the Nord Stream pipeline, the main gas conduit to Europe, will close for maintenance next week. Concerns that the pipeline won't return to full service after the works are mounting.
"Germany has relied for too long and too one-sidedly on energy deliveries from Russia," Scholz said at an event of the BEE renewable energy business association in Berlin on Wednesday.
"Today we have to admit: Russia uses energy as a weapon. No one actually believes that Russia is reducing its gas supplies for technical reasons alone," Scholz added.
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Scholz reiterated that Germany's main goal was too reduce its dependence on Russian fossil fuels as quickly as possible while at the same time not jeopardizing supply security for companies in Europe's largest economy.
Germany plans to end its coal imports from Russia by autumn and will phase out its oil imports by the end of the year, in line with European Union sanctions, the Chancellor added.
Regarding Germany's relatively high dependence on Russian natural gas, the government is working "full speed" to develop alternatives by sealing new gas contracts with other suppliers abroad and building import terminals on its northern shore for liquified natural gas, Scholz said.
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