Joint statement by the Executive Board and the General Works Council: “Stop the war!”

We are living through a historic moment in Europe. The German government is speaking of a turning point. The previously unimaginable (for many of us) has become reality. The Russian army, under the leadership of the Russian government, has invaded Ukraine in breach of international law. We are profoundly alarmed by the Russian government's military action and strongly condemn the Russian war of aggression in the heart of Europe. Our thoughts, sympathy and solidarity are with the citizens of Ukraine who are courageously resisting the invasion of the Russian army and are now threatened with flight, exile and death.

For more than 50 years, we have maintained intensive cooperation with the Russian energy and gas industry. For many years, we have sought to leverage our economic ties to promote scientific and technological cooperation, expand intercultural dialogue and bolster mutual trust and understanding. Many of our former and current employees have family and friends in Ukraine and Russia. We are all the more shocked that the Russian government has broken off dialogue with Ukraine and the European community of states. We were horrified to learn that the political leadership in Russia is denying the Ukrainian people their right to self-determination by military means.

As a group active in gas and gas infrastructure, we form part of the German energy industry and are aware of our great responsibility. We support the efforts of the German government and, on the basis of our existing import contracts, will discharge our social mandate of security of supply for the companies and people in this country - not least in the knowledge and understanding that Russian energy imports cannot be replaced in the short and medium term without serious economic and social consequences. Our employees in the areas of warehousing and transport infrastructures are making their contribution to supply security in a consistently reliable and responsible manner.

Current developments and the aggressive actions of the Russian leadership against Ukraine have fundamentally challenged confidence in Russia as a gas supplier and trading partner. Against this backdrop, we will specifically accelerate and intensify the efforts we have already instigated to further diversify our natural gas procurement with alternative supply countries and LNG volumes. At the same time, we are firmly focused on our corporate goal of making a substantial contribution to the transition to a climate-neutral energy system with innovative gas-based technologies and products. Beyond the current crisis, we have been working on this for some time with our "VNG 2030+" strategy in Germany and Europe in order to create a sustainable, secure supply and increasingly climate-neutral energy system of the future with both natural gas and increasingly green gases such as biogas and hydrogen.

VNG's companies are built on a firm foundation of values. For us, freedom, democracy, the rule of law and diversity are unchallengeable values to which we are committed and for which we stand up. Universal human rights and the right to self-determination are the indispensable foundations for the peaceful coexistence of people in Europe. We therefore call on the Russian government to immediately cease its belligerent aggression against Ukraine and return to the negotiating table. We are convinced that peace is only possible through dialogue and, looking back at our European history, reaffirm our position: Stop the war!