Photo: German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz.

Energy Politics: What’s Best For Germany?

The German government announced it was seizing control of Rosneft’s stakes in three German refineries – PCK in Schwedt, MiRo in Karlsruhe and Bayernoil in Vohburg.

The German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, explained the decision was “unavoidable”, stating “We have known for a long time that Russia isn’t a reliable energy provider any more,”

“That’s why it’s important to do everything we can now to safeguard Germany’s energy supply.”

The reason for the takeover is a coming EU ban on imports of Russian oil on January, which could accentuate the energy crisis in Germany.

The Russian parent company called the takeover a “forced expropriation” and announced that it would take action in court.

The Wrong Step

The takeover is the wrong step based on false reasons. The root cause of the energy crisis is Germany is the package of sanctions that it imposed on Russian oil and gas. Sanctions on energy are the very definition of using energy as a weapon.

When the German government started waking up to the very predictable and horrifying consequences of its mindless sanctions for its own population – inflation, bankruptcies, protests, supply chain crisis – it just became very convenient, from a political perspective, to accuse Russia of doing exactly what it was practicing itself – using energy as a weapon. The actual reason why Russia interrupted supplies through the Nordstream 1 pipeline, which is maintenance work – was systematically downplayed by the federal government in order to put forth a sham reason which had only one objective: to distract from its own fiasco.

It is only when the G7 countries announced that they would work on a price cap for Russian energy (in order to reduce Moscow’s revenues for funding the war in Ukraine) that it became politically impossible for Russia to remain passive. Just hours later, Moscow announced it was indefinitely suspending natural gas flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. That is when Russia can be objectively said to have used energy as weapon, but can you blame Moscow for defending itself?

Against The German National Interest

The government takeover of Rosneft stakes is also clearly against Germany’s national interest, although the fog of spin would make it appear otherwise. The reasons why Germany has historically pursued close energy relations with Russia are well-founded and on the whole sound. First, energy imports from Russia are relatively cheap, allowing German industry to be globally competitive. This makes economic sense.

But there is another very good reason, this time geopolitical, for Germany to buy energy from Russia. What the old generation of German politicians, understood was that doing energy business with Russia gave Germany a suitable way to lessen its dependence on the United States. The German establishment resented the domineering ways of the Americans, whose weight could only be offset if Russia could somehow be brought into the balance. Energy politics thus became a means for Germany to achieve a strategic autonomy between the two powers.

This has worked well for Germany, indeed, so well, that since Germany commissioned Russia to build the Nordstream 2 pipeline, the Americans were resolved to kill it. That American dream finally came true in January 2022, when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, possibly the most inept of all German Chancellors, decided to finally give in to the Americans.

In Germany, there is a German Chancellor who has no idea what national interest means.

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