West News Wire: Germany’s economy minister said on Sunday that the country will limit the use of natural gas for electricity generation due to fears of supply disruptions from Russia.

Germany will try to compensate for the move by increasing the use of coal, a more polluting fossil fuel, according to Economy Minister Robert Habeck.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but lowering gas usage is simply necessary in this situation,” said Habeck, a member of the environmentalist Green Party.

Last week, Russian gas company Gazprom announced a sharp reduction in supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, citing technical reasons but claiming that the move was politically motivated, according to Habeck.

Germany, which has long relied heavily on energy imports from Russia, began significantly scaling back its imports because of the war in Ukraine.

The government has nevertheless insisted that Russian gas will be needed for a while until alternative sources of energy, such as LNG brought in by ship, are available. Over the past months the German government has taken measures to fill gas storage facilities to 90% capacity by November to ensure enough gas is available as a heating fuel through the winter.

Habeck said storage facilities currently at 56.7% capacity were still able to make up the shortfall from Russia with purchases from elsewhere, but nevertheless described the situation as “serious” and said further measures may be necessary.

The German government recently called on citizens to cut back their energy use in light of the tense supply situation.

“It’s obvious that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s strategy is to unsettle us by driving up the price and dividing us,” Habeck said. “We won’t let that happen.”

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