“Brandt’s pipelines, Putin’s gas”
The pipeline for natural gas that connects Germany and Russia via the Baltic Sea is not an instrument devised by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder to circumvent Eastern Europe’s energy provision, historian Gregor Schöllgen writes in Süddeutsche Zeitung. Rather, it was a decade old project that outlasted many profound political disruptions. It was understandable that the Baltic States and Poland – much like Belarus and Ukraine before them - fear that an expansion of the pipeline dubbed “Nord Stream” could make themselves redundant for Western Europe’s gas supply and thus strip them of an important source of income, Schöllgen writes. Yet, Putin only encountered the project - which had been decisively pushed by Scandinavian states - when he entered office. Although the pipeline’s origins date back to the era of German chancellor Willi Brandt in the 1960’s, with Russia’s annexation of Crimea “it has gained more strategic relevance than ever – since “Russia needs European money” and “Europe needs Russian gas,” Schöllgen writes.
Read the article in German here.
For background, read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and its implications for international security and the CLEW factsheet Germany’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.