EXCLUSIVE: German Minister of State Tobias Lindner tells Fox News Digital that the country is “fully decoupling” from dependence on Russian fossil fuels, while also keeping an eye on the country’s “systemic rivalry” with China.
The minister of state spoke with Fox News Digital at the Aspen Security Forum in Washington, DC, Thursday, following a panel with other foreign ministers on the impact of winter on Europe’s energy supply during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
“We have to sustain our support to Ukraine. I think the winter is key,” Lindner said. “We see Russia ruthlessly attacking the infrastructure, especially electricity and heating. So that means both we need to give further military assistance, especially ammunition and spare parts, while at the same time working on the reconstruction, working on the energy supply, providing humanitarian aid.”
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Lindner told Fox News Digital that Europe and the West are doing “fine” on Ukraine aid, but countries can always do more to ensure a Ukrainian victory.
“It means we need to have close conversations with our Ukrainian friends have to understand their demands, have to coordinate with our allies, because in the end, this war should end at conditions that are written in Kiev and not in Moscow,” he said .
The minister of state said Germany is “fully decoupling” from Russia and exploring ways to diversify its energy supply in order to become fully independent of reliance on Russian fossil fuels.
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“When the war started, 35 percent of our fossil fuels came from Russia. And today, we are down to 3%. At the end of this year, we will be at zero, meaning that we are fully decoupling from Russia. And short – term, we are diversifying energy supply, and we are saving gas and fossil fuels.,” he told Fox News Digital.
Lindner noted that the “resistance against nuclear energy” is part of the “DNA of German society.”
As a result, Germany “decided to shut down the last three remaining power plants at the latest by the middle of April. We believe it’s not a good approach if you see how [much] uranium comes from Russia to change one dependency on oil and gas due to another dependency on uranium. We are convinced we can make it by wind, by solar, by other sophisticated renewable energies as an industrial country at affordable prices to become independent,” says Lindner.
The climate crisis is also a top German government priority, and the country is reaching out to China on the topic because it has a “certain responsibility” as one of the top carbon dioxide emitters.
A “good climate policy is also a good security policy,” Lindner said.
Germany is also looking at China as a “systemic” rival, in part due to lessons learned from the Russia-Ukraine war.
“Our government at the moment is drafting a China strategy, because we believe there are some lessons learned also in order for a Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. It’s not about a complete decoupling from China, but we have to keep in mind there is a systemic rivalry,” he said.
The minister of state confirmed that a plan to obtain F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin is still “on track,” which comes as Germany is working to adhere to its 2% of gross domestic product defense-spending pledge.
“I’m very confident that our appropriations committee next week will approve the procurement of F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin. I think it’s worth something like €10 billion, 10 billion US dollars,” he told Fox News Digital. “And we are sticking to our commitments.”
The minister of state also commented on 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 in the news,” he said, noting that Germany’s homeland security team had good intelligence and worked quickly to arrest 25 people. “It shows 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 frightened by any coup or something.”
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An investigation into the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, which was being built to flow gas from Russia to Germany before a series of explosions blew holes in the project, is also ongoing.
“We are investigating what happened to the pipelines, because what happened goes beyond gas supply. It’s about critical infrastructure. If you look at the North Sea as well as on the Baltic Sea, what’s on the surface? Infrastructure for gas supply from Norway, for instance, communication cables. That’s key. And therefore, Germany is also emphasizing this within NATO, that NATO needs to prepare also to protect the critical infrastructure.”
Lindner said, “We cannot make any attribution at the moment” to the destruction of the pipeline, but that Germany will continue to protect critical infrastructure.