"The prices for natural gas and mineral oil products have again risen noticeably and are having a significant impact on the high inflation rate," Destatis explains, adding that the inflation rate was also similarly high in West Germany in 1981, nearly a decade before it was reunited with East Germany in 1990 to form the current state.
The statistics office also cites supply bottlenecks due to disruptions in supply chains caused by the coronavirus pandemic as a contributing factor to the significant price increases. Final inflation figures for March will be released on April 12.
Uncertainty over energy supplies and rising costs have also led to Germany - Europe's largest economy - slashing its 2022 growth forecast from the predicted 4.6% to 1.8%. "We were already having a bad time thanks to the omicron wave and now things are even more bleak," DW quoted Monika Schnitzer from the German Council of Economic Experts as saying. If the flow of Russian energy were to stop, the post-Covid economic recovery would be in jeopardy, she added.
Earlier this week, Germany triggered its gas emergency plan, declaring an 'early warning' for potential disruption or stoppage of energy supplies from Russia. The step was taken ahead of Thursday's deadline set by Russia for "unfriendly countries," which includes Germany and the rest of the EU, to begin paying for gas in rubles instead of dollars and euros.
The Kremlin said on Wednesday that the transition to the new payment regime will not be abrupt and that importers of Russian gas will be allowed time to switch currencies.
German industry would collapse without Russian gas
The backbone of the German economy - its industry - would "collapse" should Berlin decide to impose an embargo on Russian gas, the president of the country's industry association has warned.
Appearing on the Maybrit Illner political talk show on Thursday, Siegfried Russwurm, the president of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), crossed swords with other guests who were calling for the immediate phasing out of Russian gas. Russwurm pointed out that should such an embargo be introduced, the implications would be immense, going far beyond a "speed limit" on highways and "recession and unemployment," as the host suggested.
Comment: Suggestions of ways to limit energy consumption, and thus to 'thwart Russia', such as wearing a sweater to keep warm, reducing the speed limit and shorter showers, reflect the sorry state of the West and highlight its deadly detachment from reality:
Without Russian gas, there would come a "virtual breakdown of our industrial networks," the head of the BDI forecast. He added that at the moment it was impossible to put a price on the potential losses and give even a ballpark figure of how much it would cost the average German.
"We are talking about a completely different kind of collapse of our industry," Russwurm argued, adding that Germany could see the disintegration of the very industry that it was "so proud of for seeing us through the Covid pandemic."
The BDI president also took issue with a 'Fridays for Future' activist's call to move away from gas altogether, and embrace renewables instead of becoming "dependent on some other autocrat, who there is no lack of around the globe." According to Russwurm, gas is an "extremely efficient energy source, including in terms of climate." The head of the Federation of German Industries stressed that Germany had earlier approved a plan to phase out coal only on the assumption that the country would be getting enough natural gas.
Comment: Because, despite the many billions in subsidies and investments, 'green energy' has predictably failed as an alternative: Energy crisis bursts multi-billion green shares bubble
While some of the other guests on the program claimed that it was simply immoral to fund "Putin's war" in Ukraine, Russwurm, in contrast, opined that by buying Russian gas, Germany was merely funding the regime in Russia, but not its military campaign directly.
Russwurm emphasized that Berlin should prepare itself for any eventuality, including Moscow "turning off gas," but called into question whether precipitating this was a good idea for Germany.
Comment: There's no reason to believe that Russia would turn off the gas, for no good reason, it has kept to its commitments all these years despite every attack the West had to throw at it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Thursday requiring countries which have imposed sanctions on Moscow to pay for Russian gas in rubles starting from April 1. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov warned that failure to do so would mean no gas supplies, as Russia would not give it away "free of charge."
That same day, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and German Economy Minister Robert Habeck made it clear that Paris and Berlin would not be "blackmailed" by Moscow, and refused ruble payments citing the terms of existing gas contracts.
Comment: The West have repeatedly violated their contracts and are now participating in an all out economic war on Russia, they can't talk about honouring contracts. In addition, the sanctions mean that Moscow is limited in what it can do with foreign currencies; they're, in effect, useless.
Since the start of Russia's military offensive against Ukraine on February 24, Moscow has been slapped with a slew of unprecedented economic sanctions. The US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan and the whole of the EU targeted, among other things, Russia's central bank's assets, some of the country's major commercial banks, and entire industries. The Russian government has vowed to retaliate with countermeasures of its own.