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- EU/G7’s Russian diesel price cap is on. Now, as prices rise, Ukraine’s allies can squeeze Putin’s revenues, short of a price spike. Putin’s no longer decides his business terms. 14.Feb.2022
- My Asharq: EU & G7 debate Russian oil-products’ caps. Two-caps needed by 5 February. High impact likely later this year. 14.Jan.2022
- My Kyiv Post | Opinion Exclusive: “Reflections on Scholz’s Leopards’ Stalling Strategy” 14.Jan.2022
- My Asharq: Will Iraq be able to supply Germany natural gas? Not likely soon: Iraq has risky 40 % reliance on Iran gas, just like Germany’s was on Russia. Also, Iraq announced the same contract to capture flared gas 3X in six years, with little progress. 14.Jan.2022
- My Al Jazeera | Germany takes first USA LNG | Putin suffers Winter setback in energy war vs EU, likely lasting to 2026-27 | This is a 2nd front of Russia’s failing Ukraine War. 14.Jan.2022
- My DW live: Russia ban on oil sales to price-cap nations has no significant effect. Russia will be selling less oil over time & sanctions complicate shipping insurance. Meanwhile, Ukraine-allies’ price cap encourages India & China to demand lower prices from Russia without officially joining cap. 14.Dec.2022
- My Al Jazeera: Putin’s decree banning oil sales under the cap is “a bit of bravado.” – The EU/USA can squeeze Russia by “stepwise lowering the cap” & “bringing other, new oil online.” 14.Dec.2022
- Roundtable, London asked us: “Is the US making a profit from the conflict in Ukraine?” — In my view, this complaint reflects Scholz & Macron’s continued longing to escape the USA’s transatlantic strategy towards Russia & China. 14.Dec.2022
- My Aljazeera [English] Today’s start: EU sanctions Russian imports & G7-EU price-cap. As USA planned: no market shock. 14.Dec.2022
- EU sets $60 Russian-oil-price cap. What now? [My Al Jazeera & Asharq (Blmbrg) interviews] 14.Dec.2022
- My Al Jazeera: EU debates where to set Russian oil price cap. Over time this price “will be lowered as [new oil] comes online,” shrinking Russia’s market. “The Americans just don’t want a shock removal.” 14.Nov.2022
- My Polish press interview: “Europe can replace Russian oil & gas by 2027” but “in war there are casualties” (Pl. & Eng.) 14.Nov.2022
- My Doha talk: Europe’s energy crisis: another front of Putin’s Ukraine War – & the GCC 14.Nov.2022
- My DW: Will the gas-price cap keep firms in Germany? BASF & German politicians’ years-long energy policies have collapsed. 14.Nov.2022
- Our TRT/Istanbul: Will Turkey be Russia’s new gas hub to Europe? Can Putin save his gas sector? What’s Erdogan’s game? 14.Oct.2022
- Our TRT London: Can Moldova escape Russian energy dependence? 14.Oct.2022
- My Al Jazeera: Costa, Sánchez & Scholz, in Berlin, demand Midcat gas pipe via France. They’ll confront Macron at EU Council, 20-21 Oct 14.Oct.2022
- Al Ghad/Cairo: Putin tempts Erdogan, “Take Nord Stream gas at a Turkish hub. Sell EU my gas. Forget NATO.” Putin’s ‘Gas Godfather’ games become pathetic. 14.Oct.2022
- Video | European Energy Crisis panel at Montenegro’s 2BS Forum, with Prof Alan Riley, me & moderator Jasmina Kos 14.Oct.2022
- Kyiv Post: “What to Expect in the Energy War? Interview with Expert Thomas O’Donnell” 14.Oct.2022
- My Al Jazeera: Washington picked a pointless, populist fight with the Saudis over OPEC+ cuts 14.Oct.2022
- Asharq TV: I debated Moscow expert Kirill Semyonov on the Nord Stream 1 & 2 explosions: “A suspect (Russia) cannot be an investigator.” 14.Oct.2022
- My Sky News: Are EU Measures vs the Russian Oil- & Gas-War Enough? 14.Oct.2022
- Financial Times quotes me: Germany embraced Russia’s energy for “strategic balancing” vs USA 14.Oct.2022
- My TVP, Warsaw: Assessing Energy Supplies in the EU’s Energy Crisis vs Russia. 14.Sep.2022
- My Al Jazeera: I was asked to assess Pres. Von der Leyen’s proposals on the energy crisis | Sharing hardships fairly is the key to unity. 14.Sep.2022
- Al Jazeera’s video on my view: “What does Russia’s gas cut mean for Europe?” 14.Sep.2022
- I’m cited The New York Times | Putin is wielding his gas weapon vs the EU while he still has it. The energy war will be fierce. 14.Sep.2022
- My Asharq: Russia’s War is driving MENA shortages, inflation & unrest | How Moscow uses “denazification”+”food aid” lies. What can MENA states do? 14.Sep.2022
- My DW: On OPEC+ decision & the EU’s Russian-gas price cap || AL JAZEERA: I debated Moscow expert on Putin’s try to divide EU on gas. Gemany will never trust Russian energy again; & it is rearming. 14.Sep.2022
- On Al Jazeera with expert in Moscow | Putin wants a “compromise” for gas. Like what, Donbas? Odessa?- In my view, EU citizens will choose the cold … & their dignity. 14.Aug.2022
- My Al Jazeera: Russia cuts Latvian gas; but Baltics & Poland prepared, with LNG facilities. German leadership ridiculed them. | Putin is using energy blackmail to fight sanctions imposed on Russia for his Ukraine war. 14.Jul.2022
- My DW TV: Why Putin cuts EU gas bit-by-bit? Can Germany handle it? Wind’s low, so we’re buring gas! | Many EU states warned Berlin: “Don’t open our door to Putin’s Trojan horse!” 14.Jul.2022
- Putin cuts Nord Stream1 to 20%. Gas is Moscow’s key economic lever: Exports earn much less than oil & EU needs two-to-four years to replace it | USA-EU should hit Russian oil harder 14.Jul.2022
- Roundtable Invite/Einladung: Threat of Russia-Gulf States oil price war for Asian market? Berlin, Bundestag Press House, 28 July. [Deutsch/English event] 14.Jul.2022
- My Euronews: Nord Stream1 back on. Putin knows EU will be free of Russian gas in couple years; he’ll weaponize it while he still can. Killing EU-Ukraine solidarity is the target. 14.Jul.2022
- Is a lack of oil refineries boosting global fuel prices? Al Jazeera asked us, in Houston & Berlin 14.Jul.2022
- Al Jazeera asks: What if Gazprom cuts Nord Stream1? EU strategy rests on solidarity. | As Putin’s EU gas trade dies, he can weaponize it once or twice more. 14.Jul.2022
- Al Jazeera: Former Russian Foreign Minster A. Fedorov & I are interviewed: A Putin Gas War vs EU? | Me: This would be another huge Putin tactical blunder. EU citizens will not be intimidated, will unite, blaming Putin. 14.Jul.2022
- My Al Jazeera. Turbine-in-Canada: Germany gets it back for Russia. Ukraine objects | EU gas crisis looms: Winning this economic war will have costs 14.Jul.2022
- My Asharq(Bloomberg): What if Russia cuts off EU gas? Do sanctions hurt Russia? How’s Putin’s oil going to India? “This is Putin’s energy war to win his Ukraine war.” 14.Jul.2022
- My AlJazeera: Russia cuts exports via Nord Stream 1 by 60%, further weaponizing EU over-dependence, as part of its war against Ukraine. EU winter gas rationing is possible. 14.Jun.2022
- My DW live: Gazprom Germania bailout: German policy made EU hostage to Russian energy, enabled Moscow’s Ukraine war | German strategy 1980-2022 was “strategic balancing” of Russia vs USA to carve out a space for its freedom of action within sphere of USA predominance. 14.Jun.2022
- My Al Jazeera: After EU (finally!) puts sanctions, the Saudis & OPEC move quickly to occupy Russia’s lost market shares | The world has abundant oil to develop [EN audio/AR video] 14.Jun.2022
- AlJazeera live: EU failes to agree on Russian oil embargo. With months of oil in storage, Druzhba inland refineries are no excuse. 14.May.2022
- Asharq live: No EU embargo agreed vs. Russian oil. Some too cautious (Germany), others pro-Putin (Hungary). Yet, EU has months of oil in storage. [EN audio, AR video] 14.May.2022
- My Al Jazeera: Finland, the Baltics & Poland prepared well for Gazprom’s cutoff. Germany & Austria did the opposite, putting EU at risk. 14.May.2022
- My Kosatka (Kyiv) Q&A: “Biden’s ‘gas airlift’ & Kremlin revenue. Tom O’Donnell on Russian gas embargo” [Ru/En/Ua] 14.May.2022
- Le dije a Radio Clarín Buenos Aires: Putin amenaza con cortarle el gas a la UE/Alemania, pero no tiene otra fuente de dinero. Si lo hace, Biden y la UE organizarán un “Gas-Lift” … [Spanish] 14.May.2022
- Would EU sanctions on Russian oil cost Germany “too much”? No. Scholz & Habeck pose the wrong questions. [Asharq/Bloomberg live: En & Ar] 14.Apr.2022
Tag Archives: Russia
EU/G7’s Russian diesel price cap is on. Now, as prices rise, Ukraine’s allies can squeeze Putin’s revenues, short of a price spike. Putin’s no longer decides his business terms.
Posted in Euroepen Union, Global Oil Market, Russia, Sanctions
Tagged Energy, Russia, Ukraine, United States
My Asharq: EU & G7 debate Russian oil-products’ caps. Two-caps needed by 5 February. High impact likely later this year.
Video: My answers in English; Host’s questions in Arabic.
Note: Questions in Arabic; my responses in English.
I explained how the crude oil cap is thus far successful. This bodes well for the products’ cap effectiveness.
The market situation is relatively favorable for application of EU sanctions on all Russian refined products on 5 February. Demand is still soft as Europe, even if it is not going into recession, and it is coming out of an unusually war winter that also softened demand. Also, China is not yet roaring back from its COVID reopening attempts.Continue reading
Posted in Oil prices, Uncategorized
Tagged EU, G7, oil price cap, Russia, russia sanctions, Ukraine war
My Kyiv Post | Opinion Exclusive: “Reflections on Scholz’s Leopards’ Stalling Strategy”
26 January 2023.
Summary (Added only on blog, T.O’D.): Scholz’s resistance to sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine has freed up many in Germany and beyond with reservations about the direction of the West’s strategy to become vocal.
Scholz is opposed to the recently changed USA-NATO strategic understanding that Putin’s new, long-war-of-attrition strategy could give sufficient time for his larger economic and energy war on Europe to bear fruit, seriously disrupting the West’s solidarity with Ukraine.
Biden and the NATO majority concluded that Putin’s long war of attrition strategy must be smashed. This requires large numbers of heavy weapons – tanks, aircraft, etc. – for Ukraine.
However, Scholz’ faction in Germany and in other EU states see a stalemate (e.g., war of attrition)) as likely positive, as it might lead in time to the two sides accepting a negotiated settlement or frozen conflict. This, they feel, is the path to ending the dangerous Russian-EU energy and economic war.
However, the majority pro-escalation camp, expects that a war of attrition (aka stalemate) risks the destabilizing effects of a prolonged and costly economic-and-energy “Cold War. 2” on Western stability and solidarity.
Scholz’, by demonstrably stalling NATO’s ability to send German tanks, effectively signaled his leadership of the no-escalation and pro-stalemate EU-wide faction, which is of significant size. In Germany sections of every political party now align with Scholz’ strategy. He and his faction wait for their time, when and if the new NATO escalation strategy fails.
All German parties were deeply involved in the previous energy partnership with Moscow; there is no significant organized opposition faction able to take leadership from Scholz and implement a Zeitenwende. This vacuum drives a gathering German – and EU – political crisis
Moscow is well aware of these matters. (Kyiv Post Opinion piece follows)
LINK to read at Kyiv Post | Link to copy at GlobalBarrel.com
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s resistance to sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine has freed up many in Germany with deep reservations about the direction of the West’s strategy and policy, to voice their frustrations, fears and, for many, an unwillingness to join in a Russian-Ukraine war, as opposed to containing it.Continue reading
Posted in Germany, Ukraine, Uncategorized
Tagged geopolitics, Germany, leopard tanks, Russia, scholz, Ukraine, Ukraine war, United States
My DW live: Russia ban on oil sales to price-cap nations has no significant effect. Russia will be selling less oil over time & sanctions complicate shipping insurance. Meanwhile, Ukraine-allies’ price cap encourages India & China to demand lower prices from Russia without officially joining cap.
The title and brief interview is rather self-explanatory. The interview starts after a brief intro, after 30 seconds.
Thanks to Daniel Winters, German national broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s (DW.de) English language Business News host for this invitation. We spoke, in Berlin, only a few hours after the cap was announced in Moscow.
Posted in Oil prices, Russia, Sanctions, Ukraine, Uncategorized
Tagged oil price cap, Russia, Ukraine
My Al Jazeera: Putin’s decree banning oil sales under the cap is “a bit of bravado.” – The EU/USA can squeeze Russia by “stepwise lowering the cap” & “bringing other, new oil online.”
Al Jazeera asked for an online commentary within an hour of Putin’s announcement. These were my initial thoughts.
I also spoke to AJ Arabic, and a couple hours later, on Germany’s Deutsche Welle’s English language service elaborated on these points (see video, next blog post).
The question is where will the EU-USA-g7 western alliance go from here. If they stepwise lower the cap, and also work hard to get new oil online (from OPEC and the USA), they can gradually keep lowering Russia’s market share. However, as I indicated, the coming recession – esp. in Europe – and the uncertainties of Chinese demand as it exits COVID shutdowns in early 2023, complicate calculations of whether the globala oil market will be short or long on supplies and if the price will spike or not. I said this will be “a chess game.”
Comments are most welcomed. Tom O’D.
Posted in Putin, Russia, Uncategorized
Tagged oil price cap, Russia, Sanctions, Ukraine war
Roundtable, London asked us: “Is the US making a profit from the conflict in Ukraine?” — In my view, this complaint reflects Scholz & Macron’s continued longing to escape the USA’s transatlantic strategy towards Russia & China.
- Nicholas Lokker, Research Assistant at the Centre for a New American Security
- Marie Jourdain, Visiting Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center
- Dr. Thomas O’Donnell: Energy and Geopolitics Analyst
Host: Philip Hampsheir, sitting in for David Foster.
From the TRT YouTube page blurb:
Dec 7, 2022 – Top European Union officials are accusing the United States of profiting from the war in Ukraine through high natural gas prices and weapons sales, while Europe struggles with rampant inflation and a cost of living crisis. Amidst rising tensions, a meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and his American counterpart in Washington saw both attempt to send a message of unity.Continue reading
Posted in Energy and Geostrategy, Euroepen Union, Russia, The USA, Ukraine, Uncategorized
Tagged Energy, geopolitics, Germany, Russia, United States
EU sets $60 Russian-oil-price cap. What now? [My Al Jazeera & Asharq (Blmbrg) interviews]
FIRST: Al Jazeera, 10:05 AM, 02.12.22 CET, Berlin & Doha: — English audio below, then Arabic video.
SECOND: Asharq (exclusive Bloomberg affiliate, Gulf) , about 10:00 PM, 02.12.22 CET, Berlin & Doha — English Audio below, then Arabic video.
Posted in Asharq, Energy crisis, Euroepen Union, oil price war, Uncategorized
Tagged Asharq, Energy, EU, European Union, oil price, oil price cap, Russia, Ukraine
My DW: Will the gas-price cap keep firms in Germany? BASF & German politicians’ years-long energy policies have collapsed.
I was interviewed (Tuesday 01nov22) on the new gas-price cap plan the German government is expected to approve tomorrow.
I was asked four questions by DW’s host Kate Ferguson:
-1- Thomas, it`s interesting to see the government attach conditions to these price caps for companies. How worried is it about a corporate exodus?
-2- German chancellor Olaf Scholz is visiting a BASF factory today – just days after the company announced major cost cutting – complaining that gas prices were up to six times higher at home than in the US. Are these caps enough to prevent OTHER companies from following suit?
– 3- Managing gas prices is one thing. But with a recession looming what ELSE does the German government need to do to keep companies afloat?
-4- The EU hasn`t been able to agree on a COMMON gas price cap. How damaging is it for countries to go it alone? I was not particularly optimistic.
The above were not especially technical energy-sector questions, so my answers combine assessments of energy-sector facts facing Germany with geopolitical and geo-economic assessments of the deep crisis facing German industry, citizens and the political establishment. Read more on my blog: http:GlobalBarrel.com . Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Energy, Germany, Russia, United States
Our TRT/Istanbul: Will Turkey be Russia’s new gas hub to Europe? Can Putin save his gas sector? What’s Erdogan’s game?
- Dr. Thomas O’Donnell: Energy Analyst, in Berlin
- Eser Özdil of Glocal Group Consulting; and Former President of The Turkish Petroleum and Natural Gas Platform Association. He is also an external fellow of the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC.
and Host Ayse Suberker of TRT TV’s Straight Talk from Istanbul.
We analyzed what Putin aims to achieve, and why President Erdogan of Turkey has so rapidly accepted this proposal. This is obviously, I said, a scheme by Putin to try to save his natural gas business to Europe.Continue reading
Posted in EU gas, gas, gas crisis, Nord Stream, Nord Stream 2, Russia, Turkey, Uncategorized
Tagged Energy, geopolitics, Russia, Ukraine
Our TRT London: Can Moldova escape Russian energy dependence?
Our panel included the experts:
- Klaus Larres Professor of History and International Affairs, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Lucia Scripcari Analyst on Moldovan Domestic and Foreign Policy
- Thomas O’Donnell Energy and Geopolitics Analyst, and academic, in Berlin.
The energy security of Moldova, a small, pro-EU state boarding Romania, is precarious and under various and comlpex threats from Russia. This includes direct threats to its gas supplies, which overwhelmingly come from Gazprom.
Meanwhile, Moldova’s 70% of its electricity comes from its region of Transnistria, which is illegally occupied by Russia, and this electricity is produced by gas imported across Moldova by Gazprom.
The remaining 30% of its electricity comes from Ukraine, where recent Russian missile strikes have hit power plants and apparently forced a cut off the Ukrainian electricity supplies to Moldova on the day before we recorded this show.Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Energy crisis, Gazprom, moldova, putiin, romania, Russia, transnistria, TRT, Ukraine
My Al Jazeera: Costa, Sánchez & Scholz, in Berlin, demand Midcat gas pipe via France. They’ll confront Macron at EU Council, 20-21 Oct
Given the wartime energy emergency in Europe, it is perhaps astonishing that President Macron of France continues to block completion of the Midcat Pipeline.
Completion of this pipeline, whose construction was interrupted well before the Ukraine War began, would enable Portugal and Spain, located on the Iberian Peninsula, to send much of the abundance of LNG and pipeline gas these countries are able to import on northward, across the Pyrenees Mountains, across France and into Germany and other northern and eastern EU Member states, which are being starved of natural gas by Russia.
I am asked for my theory as to why President Macron would block this obviously much needed pipeline from crossing his country. We discuss several other related issues as well.Continue reading
Posted in Algeria, Berlin, Uncategorized
Tagged Energy, France, geopolitics, Germany, Midcat, Russia, Spain
My Al Jazeera: Washington picked a pointless, populist fight with the Saudis over OPEC+ cuts
The title above says much more succinctly what I was hoping to get into in this interview. Below are the beginning of an article I was writing for this blog post. However, a USA organization is interested in using it for an Op-Ed. So, only the initial part is below. I hope to post on this fully very soon (i.e., a published article). – Tom O’D.
In my view, the Biden Administration has unwisely gotten into an exaggerated public clash with the Saudis and OPEC/OPEC+ over their 2 mbd quota cut.
The key here is the need for more investment rapidly into both the OPEC states (which have plenty of oil reserves that can be developed) and into USA shale resources (that are also abundant and need to be more rapidly expanded).
The looming global recession discourages investors in both instances, of course. And, the Biden administration has reason to worry, both if a global recession soon begins, slashing oil demand, and especially if it doesn’t (but, it will).
I agree with Ed Morse (video interview on CNN here), veteran oil-market analyst, head of Citibank’s Global Commodities: Regardless of the OPEC quota cut, given the strong trend towards a global recession, which is proceeding relatively slower in the USA than elsewhere, it’s likely oil prices will be “in the $70’s at the end of the year.”
… to be continued.
My Sky News: Are EU Measures vs the Russian Oil- & Gas-War Enough?
Dear GlobalBarrel.com readers,
Some upcoming events I’ll attend and post here:
1. I’m invited to speak at the “12th 2BS Forum, one of the leading politico-security conferences in Southeast Europe, organized by the Atlantic Council of Montenegro.” So I’ll be in Budva from 6-9 October. Ukrainian President Zelensky will deliver a keynote video speech from Kyiv. My Panel is 8 August 2022, 14.45 – 15.15:
The Climate-Energy Security Nexus, with speakers:
- Thomas W. O’DONNELL, Energy & Geopolitical Expert
- Alan RILEY, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Professor, City Law School, Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council ONLINE SPEAKER TBC
- Moderator: Jasmina KOS, Presenter and Reporter, Al Jazeera Balkans
2. I’m also invited to speak at
- The 9th Annual Gulf & Arabian Peninsula Studies Forum, for which I will be in Doha, Qatar from 21-24 October. The conference title is: “Implications of the Ukraine crisis and regional and international competition for the future of security and energy in the Gulf region.”
- The My topic will be the transformation of the German (and EU) relationship with the GCC states in energy and security matters since the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the parallel Kremlin energy war against Europe.
I plan to post on the content of these conferences and my contributions, and to try to post more of my media interviews – when they may be of use.Continue reading
Posted in Energy and Geopolitics, Energy crisis, EU gas, European Union, gas, gas crisis, gazprom, Germany, Uncategorized
Tagged Energy, Energy crisis, energy war, European Union, Germany, Russia, sky news arabia, Ukraine
Financial Times quotes me: Germany embraced Russia’s energy for “strategic balancing” vs USA
04 Oct 22: I was asked, two weeks ago, why did Germany insist on increasing its partnership with Russia in gas even after the 2014 Ukraine invasion? Was this “naivety”? I said this characterization obscures a conscious German geostrategy.
Two common explanations I constantly heard in Berlin over about eight years for the Russian gas partnership was the “Neue Ostpolitik” that originated with Willy Brant’s Cold-War-era Social Democratic Party and the conservative-business version of this, “Wandel durch Handel” (change through trade), held up as an historic lesson of the late-mediaeval Hanseatic Trading League.
Indeed, these traditions certainly did motivate many elite German actors to partner with Russia on energy and on trade generally …
“But according to Thomas O’Donnell, a Germany-based energy analyst, it was also driven by a German desire for ‘strategic balancing — it was a way for Germany to break free from its dependence on the US’.
“Many in the German establishment, he said, resented US dominance in energy matters and disliked ‘this idea of a global fungible market in oil that’s traded in dollars and protected by the US navy’. That resentment, he said, was one of the reasons why Germany kept out of the US war in Iraq in 2003. And it was why it suited Germany to have direct access to Russian oil and gas.” [Guy Chazan & David Sheppard, Germany closes long energy chapter with Russia by turning on Rosneft, Financial Times, 17 Sept 22. https://www.ft.com/content/2fbbe104-93e3-48bb-8d69-211c79069624 ]
In this short post, I can’t fully explain the near unanimity of German elites over two decades (first during the two 1998-2005 Schröder chancellorships of his SPD plus the Greens, and throughout the the five Merkel coalition governments until December 2021, of her CDU/CSU with the SPD or FDP) in support of renewing and further deepening what by 1998 was already two-to-three-decades old energy partnership with Russia.
Within this remarkable unanimigy, various parties and business interests had a variety of rationales. [see Footnote 1, on what I see as the key German foreign policy group, the “realpolitik” group, which included Merkel and Altmaier, beyond the trade-as-geostrategy grouping mentioned above.]
However, both these sections participated/participate in a broad anti-Americanism.
I am speaking here about opposition to USA leadership of the transatlantic alliance most especially on trade matters and in the alliance’s geostrategy, especially when it may involve armed conflicts. This has various geopolitical and geo-economic aspects.
This was exacerbated during the late-Merkel years not merely by the Trump presidency’s open hostility; but by policies of administrations both before and after his administration (i.e., in “normal times”). This has to do especially with German opposition to the bi-partisan, USA strategic posture, initiated under Obama, of “Great Power Competition,” and especially to its international trade implications of decoupling from both Russia and China.
In both the realpolitik sections of German elites, who do recognize the threat Putin-ism represents and the dangers of German reliance on his regime for energy or in any other matters, and in the Putin-Versteher sections who worship trade-as-a-geostrategic-cure-all, the one common characteristic has long been a growing resentment of the USA, aka an “anti-Americanism” as I remarked to the Financial Times. This especially exists among party and ministry functionaries, and certain business associations, so much that this anti-Americanism has become institutionalized, a constant underlying feature of German official geopolitical and geoeconomic bureaucratic life. (Nota Bene: I am not speaking here of the German middle and working classes, where matters are generally quite different, except among various far-left and -right sections. I am speaking of elites.)
Until a few years ago (e.g., during the negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Treaty, TTIP up to ca. 2016), this official anti-Americanism phenomena was often noted and discussed by policy and academic experts on both sides of the Atlantic. It is not clear to me why this outward recognition has diminished; but the sentiment itself certainly hasn’t, especially.
Putting aside historical and social-cultural aspects of this “resentment” of the USA, in the political realm it is no secret that, over multiple USA administrations, the German side, often along with other Western European powers, has been deeply opposed to many major USA foreign policy decisions, and indeed many of these decisions did not go well for the transatlantic alliance.
One could point back 50 years, to the VietNam War, or to US coups and interventions in Latin America, or the stationing of intermediate-range nuclear missiles in West Germany (which the Russians did also in East Germany). All of this was clearly upsetting to broad sections of the European population; as this was often within the USA as well.
All these issues would likely have been forgotten by now; however, transatlantic-policy clashes over geostrategy have continued in the post-Cold War era.
These clashes include the two Iraqi Gulf Wars and, for many years USA Iran policy (up till the late-Geo. Bush administrationm when EU attitudes to Iran started to merge with the USA’s), the USA-led NATO intervention against Serbia to end the Balkan wars (which ushered in a renaissance for NATO within Europe that was clearly unwelcomed at the time in broad German circles), the mishandling and human-rights violations of the War on Terror post 9/11, and more recently USA policy w.r.t China and Russia – esp. the shift to a strategy of “Great Power Competition” as it disengaged from the “War on Terror” and USA military over-involvement in the MENA regions.
More generally, the fact that, during almost any post-Cold War crisis confronting the transatlantic alliance, the USA president has been “the decider” (in the words of George Bush), became a source of palpable resentment.
Economic and trade tensions served to fortify these political and geopolitical sensibilities and has been, by far, the primary vector which drew German business circles into resentment of USA leadership of the alliance. In German political parties, this ongoing resentment has been esp. notable within the SPD; in the extreme-right AfD party and, in a less ideological, more pragmatic manner, by conservative business sections of the CDU/CSU, and as always the traditional far-left.
This gave rise to a deep urge among German business and political circles to find ways to escape dependence on and subordination to USA determination of policy within the transatlantic alliance in-general and, till now, on oil and gas in particular, linked as it has been to the Mideast Wars. This only deepened the instinctive urge to fix Germany’s connection to the Russian gas and oil supplies as a “strategic balancing” to the USA’s predominance in global energy markets and in energy geostrategy during the post-Cold War years and especially the “color revolutions” and most especially Ukraine’s struggle against Russian domination.
German elites got deeply involved in a project to guarantee continued Russian natural gas deliveries to their country and on into Europe should there ever be a conflict between Russia and Ukraine that might interrupt the flows transiting Ukraine into Germany and its EU allies’ markets.
Hence, this produced the agreements to assist Putin’s Kremlin to build the detour pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2 (i.e., a mga-infrastructure plan to completely replace, using “more secure routes,” the Russian-to-Europe export pipeline system of the Cold War Era that mostly flowed across Ukraine, but Poland and Belarus as well, and which itself had only been built due to active West German [and French] participation).
In addition, German elites took the geostrategic and geo economic decision to constantly deepen the vertical integration of Germany (and with it, Europe) with the upstream Russian gas system … not in spite of Russian aggression against Ukraine, but precisely because of the threat and reality of such aggression.
From the CEE, Baltic, American and other opponents’ point of view, this amounted to “throwing Ukraine under the bus.” But, this was precisely the conscious, “realpolitik” decision (my characterization) by both groups of German geopolitical and geoeconomic policy elites. For the “realpolitik” group, there was little in the way of “naivety” … it was a calculated geostrategic gamble. This group benefited from the ideological traditions of Ostpolitik and Change through Trade groups, which had long infected broad sections of German elites, and would repeat the inane refrains this latter group believed in … such as “change through trade” and “this is only a commercial project.”
Footnote 1: On German-elite broad groupings, which supported/support the German-Russian energy alliance:
Group 1: In my view (assessments based on my research), the group who had little illusions about the dangerous and volatile nature of Vladimir Putin’s regime is this “realpolitik” grouping. Despite what was constantly said publicly about the renewal and strengthening of the German-Russian energy partnership being a “non-geopolitical” and a “purely commercial project, this group was actually deeply concerned about escaping the risks associated with Russian gas having to transit “insecure” and “risky” Ukraine in order to arrive in Germany and into Europe generally. Any potential interruption of this flow was widely seen as a looming existential risk to Germany and its EU allies’ energy and economic security.
In this regard, building Nord Stream 1 and 2, and deepening German energy integration with Russia via its Gazprom and other energy firms was seen as of the highest priority for guaranteeing German energy security, i.e., the continued delivery of Russian gas to Germany and on into Europe, no matter what might happen in Ukraine, whether it be war or internal destabilization that could undermine Russian gas transit across the country.
This group seriously misjudged what would happen in the event of a Russian war on Ukraine. Rather than the EU cherishing the transit of Russian imported gas which Germany had “guaranteed” by building the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines as a “lifeline” during the war; Europe has largely been horrified at the Russian brazen rupture of the post-WW2 security system and its atrocities in Ukraine and had in fact made concerted efforts and plans to wean itself off any available Russian gas supplies. The absolute insistence of the USA, esp. the Biden administration, that the new NS2 pipeline must forever be abandoned by Germany from the first day this war began, played a crucial role in pressing (forcing?) Germany to agree to not certify the inauguration of this pipeline.
I called this group of German elites the “realpolitik” group.
Group 2: On the other end of the geostrategic/geo-economic spectrum, there was the “Putin-Versteher” or “Putin understander” among German political and business actors. Some of the most obsequious are pictured at this link from Die Welt, who, in contrast to the “realpolitik” grouping, have had such exaggerated confidence in Putin that some, in the more extreme cases, would be happy with still-deeper German-Russian economic and political integration, not only energy sector integration.
For example, there are actors on the fringes of various parties, nevertheless with positions in parliament or important business associations, who have had a habit of calling, in private meetings at least, for political “unity” with Russia and Austria, specifically adding “against” the Americans. This fringe has gone farther than, for example, Chancellor Schroeder’s public advocacy from the early 2010’s for a Free Trade Zone and some sort of unified polity “from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” albeit short of Russian “full membership” in the EU.
Footnote 2: A few articles I have written related to this analysis follow:
- “My DW live: Gazprom Germania bailout: German policy made EU hostage to Russian energy, enabled Moscow’s Ukraine war | German strategy 1980-2022 was “strategic balancing” of Russia vs USA to carve out a space for its freedom of action within sphere of USA predominance,” [posted on 14 June 2022.
- Here, I don’t use the phrase explicitly; but that German attitude to relations with the USA and within the transatlantic alliance, is explained rather clearly, IMHO: “Nord Stream 2: Berlin-Washington Mutual Intransigence Shows Transatlantic Divide on Russia,” My AICGS Analysis, posted on 14 Oct 2022. This is available at my blog or the original is at AICGS institute in DC.
- “Neue Neue Ostpolitik” My BPJ piece on German fury at Senate NS2 sanctions,” Posted on 14.Jul.2022. Originally published at the Berlin Policy Journal here of the DGAP (German Council on Foreign Relations), and later reprinted at my blog here.
Posted in Berlin, Uncategorized
Tagged Energy, geopolitics, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, United States
My TVP, Warsaw: Assessing Energy Supplies in the EU’s Energy Crisis vs Russia.
This video is the portion of the TVP show (Warsaw, Poland, in English) with my interview on 09sep22.
We discussedthe present energy crisis in Europe vs. Putin’s Russia – as an additional front parallel to the hot war inside Ukraine.
I gave my views on the causes for Europe’s predicament: this includes over-dependence on Russian energy – long insisted upon by especially Germany and Austria – to over-dependence on variable wind energy without having any significant amout of grid-scale storage installed.
Also, on the necessity of nuclear as a zero-carbon base load generation capaciy, and the most useful applications for larger, Generation 3+ nuclear plants as versus smaller SMRs (small modular reactors). I aso commented on the Polish national energy transistion plan, wich seems much moe flexib .
[Note: TVP is the Polish state-media corporation TV channel. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telewizja_Polska
As the Wiki indicates, TVP is criticized for being partisan pro-government. In my interview, on this topic, this was not the case. I also often go onto German state-media TV, Deutsche Welle (DW), subject to my similar observations when I’ve been on that station. ]Continue reading
Posted in Energy crisis, Euroepen Union, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Uncategorized