EXCLUSIVE: German State Minister Tobias Lindner told Fox News Digital that the country is “completely disengaging” from its reliance on Russian fossil fuels, while keeping an eye on the country’s “systemic rivalry” with China.
The state minister spoke to Fox News Digital at the Aspen Security Forum in Washington, DC, on Thursday, following a panel with other foreign ministers on the impact of winter on Europe’s wartime power supplies in course between Russia and Ukraine.
“We have to maintain our support for Ukraine. I think winter is key,” Lindner said. “We see Russia ruthlessly attacking infrastructure, especially electricity and heating. That means we both need to provide more military assistance, especially ammunition and spare parts, while at the same time working on reconstruction, working on power supply, providing aid humanitarian”. aid.”
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Lindner told Fox News Digital that Europe and the West are “fine” with helping Ukraine, but countries can always do more to ensure a Ukrainian victory.
“It means that we must have close talks with our Ukrainian friends, understand their demands, coordinate with our allies, because in the end, this war should end under the conditions that are written in kyiv and not in Moscow,” he said. .
The state minister said Germany is “completely disengaging” from Russia and exploring ways to diversify its energy supply to become completely independent of Russia’s reliance on fossil fuels.
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“When the war started, 35 percent of our fossil fuels came from Russia. And today, we’re down to 3%. By the end of this year, we’ll be at zero, which means we’re completely disengaging from Russia. And shortly in the short term, we are diversifying the energy supply and we are saving gas and fossil fuels,” he told Fox News Digital.
Lindner noted that “resistance against nuclear power” is part of the “DNA of German society.”
As a result, Germany “decided to shut down the last three remaining power plants no later than mid-April. We think that’s not a good approach if you see how [much] the uranium comes from Russia to change one dependence on oil and gas due to another dependence on uranium. We are convinced that we can achieve independence with wind, solar and other sophisticated renewable energy as an industrial country at affordable prices,” says Lindner.
The climate crisis is also a top priority for the German government, and the country is reaching out to China on the issue because it bears a “certain responsibility” as a major emitter of carbon dioxide.
A “good climate policy is also a good security policy,” Lindner said.
Germany also sees China as a “systemic” rival, partly because of the lessons learned from the Russia-Ukraine war.
“Our government right now is drafting a China strategy, because we think there are also some lessons learned for a Russian aggressive war in Ukraine. This is not a complete disengagement from China, but we have to keep in mind that there is a systemic rivalry “, said.
The state minister confirmed that a plan to source F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin is still “on the way”, which comes as Germany is working to meet its defense spending commitment of 2% of gross domestic product.
“I’m very confident our appropriations committee will approve Lockheed Martin’s F-35 acquisition next week. I think it’s worth something like 10 billion euros, 10 billion US dollars,” he told Fox News Digital. “And we are sticking to our commitments.”
The state minister also referred to the arrest this week of 25 members or supporters of a far-right domestic terrorist group known as the “Reichsbürger” movement, who were allegedly involved in a plot to overthrow the government and install a “prince” with ties to the former German royal family.
“We were all shocked yesterday when we saw it on the news,” he said, noting that Germany’s national security team had good intelligence and worked quickly to arrest 25 people. “It shows that we had those people on the list, on the screen. We are acting. And so we have to investigate for sure, but I’m not scared of any hits or anything.”
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An investigation is also ongoing into the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which was being built to transport gas from Russia to Germany before a series of explosions blew holes in the project.
“We are looking into what happened to the pipelines, because what happened goes beyond the gas supply. It is about critical infrastructure. If you look at the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, what is on the surface? Infrastructure for the supply of gas gas from Norway, for example, communication cables. That’s the key. And so Germany is also emphasizing this within NATO, that NATO must also prepare to protect critical infrastructure.”
Lindner said, “We cannot make any attribution at this point” to the destruction of the pipeline, but that Germany will continue to protect critical infrastructure.