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August 11, 2022 10:14 am
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Coming Winter Fuel Crisis Triggered by Ukraine War Will Boost Antisemitism in Germany, Jewish Leader Warns

avatar by Ben Cohen

A view of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline funneling natural gas from Russia to Germany. Photo: Reuters/dpa

The head of Germany’s Jewish community has spoken of his fear that the prospect of a fuel crisis this winter caused by the interruption of Russian energy supplies will embolden antisemitic conspiracy theorists.

In an interview with broadcaster RND, Josef Schuster — president of the Central Council of German Jews — warned that the extremist groups and conspiracy theorists who actively promoted antisemitic tropes during the COVID-19 pandemic would turn their attentions to the Russian war in Ukraine and the expected stiff price hike in fuel as the winter season approaches.

“When there are problems, minorities are blamed, and Jews are always included,” Schuster said. He urged “keeping an eye on this scene during the autumn” and “remaining vigilant.”

“When it gets cold in winter, this scene will go on the attack and, I’m afraid, succeed,” he added.

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Germany’s heavy dependence on Russian fuel supplies is causing anxiety across the country as Russian President Vladimir Putin toys with the prospect of cutting natural gas supplies this winter.

Over the last decade, 55 percent of Germany’s natural gas requirement has been supplied by Russia through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that directly connects the two countries; a second pipeline, however, was denied certification following the invasion of Ukraine.

In June, Russia announced that it was reducing the gas supplied through Nord Stream 1 by 60 percent, claiming that Germany had failed to address “technical problems” with the pipeline. German government ministers in turn angrily accused the Russians of “weaponizing” gas supplies, insisting that the technical issues were a fiction.

Russia has also cut natural gas supplies to several European countries, including Poland, the Netherlands and Finland, but analysts believe that these nations are better prepared to withstand a winter fuel crisis.

Poland’s storage facilities are nearly full and it has received additional supplies from the US and Qatar that are maintained in its Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal. By comparison, Germany’s backup supplies are reportedly down to 70 percent while the country hastily builds LNG facilities, according to Marketplace. Additionally, Germany enthusiastically endorsed an EU plan to voluntarily cut gas consumption among member states by 15 percent.

Schuster also addressed the impact of the Ukraine war on the Jewish community internally. He noted that 35,000 members of the Jewish community — about one-third of the total number — had emigrated to Germany from Russia and Ukraine.

“I was a bit concerned that this conflict would spread to these communities, but that didn’t happen,” Schuster said. He said that the immigrants from Russia had also “clearly recognized what is going on. There is a great deal of pro-Ukraine unity in these communities.”

 

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