Featured Image
Protestors demand government intervention to mitigate the rising cost of energy in Leipzig, Germany. The banner reads: 'Enough! Life must be affordable'Photo by Jens Schlueter/Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) – Demonstrations against government energy policies have broken out in Germany as the energy crisis continues to cause problems across Europe.

While prices soar and consequent fears regarding the coming winter rise among Europeans, politicians have expressed concern for months that Russia, after having already reduced the gas flow to Europe, might soon stop delivering gas altogether. Although European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen claims Russia has “blackmailed” the European union (EU), it is widely acknowledged that Russian gas cuts have been triggered by severe Western sanctions. 

Recent comments by Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov sparked concern that gas deliveries through the major pipeline Nord Stream 1 might not resume at all.

“Problems with gas supply arose because of the sanctions imposed on our country by Western states, including Germany and Britain,” Peskov told reporters during a July conference call. “We see incessant attempts to shift responsibility and blame onto us. We categorically reject this and insist that the collective West – in this case the EU, Canada, the U.K. – is to blame for the fact that the situation has reached the point where it is now.”

When asked if Nord Stream 1 would resume pumping if sanctions by the West were lifted, Peskov replied: “Definitely.”

These comments were taken by many western media outlets and politicians to mean that deliveries through the pipeline will not be turned back on anytime soon. “There is still some gas coming through the Ukraine pipeline, but Nord Stream 1 being reopened is not one of the scenarios I expect,” Germany’s economy minister Robert Habeck said

As things stand, the flow of gas through the pipeline has been halted due to maintenance work, although western politicians and media outlets cast doubt that such work is the real reason for stopping the pipeline.

Gazprom, the Russian company operating Nord Stream 1, claims that an oil leak on a turbine was the reason for halting operations; however, a spokesperson for the company that built the turbine, Siemens energy, said that the described leak normally does not affect the function of the turbine and could be sealed on site without halting the operation of the pipeline.

Demonstrations against Western sanctions on Russia

Fears of energy shortages in the coming winter have given rise to demonstrations in Germany. On August 29 German right-wing activists temporarily occupied the terminal of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in Lubmin, Germany. They displayed a banner reading “Turn on Nord Stream” at the site and threatened to open the pipeline themselves. Their action prompted a large police operation and lead to some of the activists being temporarily arrested. 

As LifeSiteNews reported in July, the opening of the newly built Nord Stream 2 pipeline was halted and its certification suspended by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz following the start of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Another demonstration at the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, organized in part by members of the German parliamentary party Alternative for Germany, was held on September 4. Protestors demanded that the German government should open the pipeline and end the sanctions against Russia.

The new pipeline connects Russia and Germany through the Baltic sea, costing around 9.5 billion euros ($9.4 billion) to build. That amount was in part paid by the German taxpayers. 

Demonstrations expected to increase

German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock sparked outrage after dismissing the concerns of German citizens while seeming to prioritize Ukrainian interests during a speech at the Forum 2000 meeting.

But if I give the promise to people in Ukraine: We stand with you, as long you need us. Then I want to deliver, no matter what my German voters think. But I want to deliver to the people of Ukraine.

Baerbock also alluded to possible demonstrations happening this winter, saying: 

We are facing now a wintertime where we will be challenged as democratic politicians. People will go on the street and say we cannot pay our energy prices. And I will say: Yes, I know, so we help you with social measures. But I don’t want to say, okay, then we stop the sanctions against Russia. We will stand with Ukraine and this means the sanctions will stay, also in winter time, even if it gets really tough for politicians.

Her comments enraged many critics, who said that the German foreign minister cared more about Ukraine than about her own country and that she had no regard for the demands and well-being of her own citizens. The hashtag #BaerbockRuecktritt, demanding the minister’s resignation, was trending after the video of her comments went viral.

Demonstrations against the energy and sanctions policies are likely to become larger and more frequent in the coming weeks and months, with politicians including Baerbock admitting an expectation that protests continue.