Germany seizes Russian gas company
Germany has taken ownership of a local branch of Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom. Berlin’s energy regulator will temporarily control the company despite Moscow’s previous insistence that such a move would be illegal.
Gazprom Germania, a subsidiary of the Saint Petersburg-based firm, operates some of the country’s largest natural gas storage facilities.
Economy Minister Robert Habeck announced the decision on Monday, arguing it would mean that Germany’s energy infrastructure is not “subject to arbitrary decisions by the Kremlin.”
“The arrangement of the trust administration serves to protect public safety and order and to maintain the security of supply,” Habeck told reporters, adding that the step “is urgently necessary” to ensure the “security of supply in Germany.”
The minister said the Gazprom branch would come under the trusteeship of the Federal Network Agency, Germany’s main energy regulator, until September 30. He did not elaborate on what would happen after that date, however, leaving it unclear how the government plans to proceed with the company.
While Gazprom announced last Friday that it would end its participation in the Gazprom Germania subsidiary, divesting all assets from the firm, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov nevertheless stated that any nationalization of Russian companies by Berlin would “seriously violate international law,” deeming it “unacceptable.”
“The nationalization in Germany of the subsidiaries of Gazprom and Rosneft would seriously violate international law… it will violate all imaginable and unimaginable laws,” Peskov told reporters on Friday.