Germany ‘can’t isolate’ Russia – former chancellor — Analysis

Gerhard Schroeder said that Germany needs Russian energy, and can’t afford to break away from Moscow

Hounded by the international media and hated in his home city for his close ties to Russia, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder insists that Germany needs Russia’s vast energy supplies to maintain its industrial power.

As Germany’s leaders distance themselves from calls to embargo Russian oil and gas imports, the New York Times published an interview on Saturday with Gerhard Schroeder, the country’s former chancellor who oversaw the construction of the first Russia-Germany Nord Stream pipeline and went on to advise multiple Russian energy companies.

Schroeder, who remains personally close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has faced scathing criticism at home for his role in fostering Germany’s dependence on Russian gas (although his successor, Angela Merkel, refused to lessen that reliance). Borussia Dortmund, his favourite soccer team, insisted that he condemn Putin. Former Social Democratic Party members called for him to be expelled and he gave up honorary citizenship of Hannover. 

Germany clarifies why Russia opposes the gas embargo

According to the Times, Adolf Hitler was the last ex-German leader to lose his honorary citizenship in Hannover.

Schroeder, however insists on the need for Russia and Germany to be together. “They need oil and gas to pay for their budget. And we need oil and gas to heat and to keep the economy going,”He stated.

You can’t isolate a country like Russia in the long run, neither politically nor economically

“German industry needs the raw materials that Russia has. It’s not just oil and gas, it’s also rare earths. And these are raw materials that cannot simply be substituted,” Schroeder added.

That view does not belong to him alone. While Merkel defied threats of sanction from the US and pushed ahead with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the current SPD-led government axed the almost-completed project within days of Russia’s offensive against Ukraine. With that same government pressing ahead with closing Germany’s three remaining nuclear plants, leaders in Berlin are realizing that without Russian energy, Germany’s economy could collapse.

“I don’t see at all that a gas embargo would end the war,”Friday’s statement by Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the German newspaper Der Spiegel “We want to avoid a dramatic economic crisis, the loss of millions of jobs and factories that would never open again. That would have serious consequences for our country, for the whole of Europe, and it would also severely affect the financing of Ukraine’s reconstruction.”

Germans urged to cut back on hot showers to save gas

German industrialists are in a similar situation. BASF, the world’s largest chemicals firm, warned several weeks ago that it would halt production if gas imports from Russia were interrupted. According to the Federation of German Industries, a gas embargo could lead to the end of production. “virtual breakdown of our industrial networks.”

Gas is often the most talked-about commodity when it comes to Berlin’s energy relationship with Moscow, given the fact that Germany imports more than half of its natural gas from Russia. Germany still relies on Russia for more than one third of its oil imports, which is why the EU is considering banning these vital imports, even though Germany protests.

Russia accounts for about a third our oil importsLast month, Annalena Bock, Foreign Minister, spoke to Bild via the video channel. “If we stopped these straight away, then tomorrow we would not be able to move in Germany anymore.”She has however since changed her mind and now supports a gradual oil-and gas ban.

Schroeder insists that there should be an energy embargo. “won’t happen.”

“When this war is over,”He said, “we will have to go back to dealing with Russia. We always do.”

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