Germany has sounded the alarm that Russia could cut off its gas supply to European Union states, refusing to make payments in the Russian currency, the ruble.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday that he had initiated the first stage "early warning" alert level of the EU state's gas supply emergency, ordering a crisis team to monitor the situation.
Habeck, who was in the Persian Gulf earlier this month hoping to find alternatives to Russian gas as the conflict in Ukraine stokes fears of an energy crisis in Europe, is one of many European officials seeking an emergency response to the energy crisis in Europe.
"The invasion of Ukraine by Russia opened up a period of strong volatility for the markets for raw materials, gas and oil," Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi said while hosting a meeting in mid-March his Spanish, Portuguese, and Greek counterparts.
The four European leaders discussed a joint response to the energy crisis intensified by the standoff with Russia.
Russia's UN envoy said on Tuesday that Western sanctions were leading to a large-scale global crisis.
Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia said the West’s unilateral anti-Russian sanctions are leading the world to a food crisis of a historic scale.
"The actual causes threatening the global food market with serious turbulence are not in Russia’s actions but rather is the unrestrained sanction hysteria the West has unleashed against Russia," said the Russian envoy to the United Nations.
Russia launched a military offensive against Ukraine last month. Since then, European leaders have been sounding the alarm about imminent food and energy shortages.