An investigation committee may call Chancellor Olaf Scholz as a witness to answer questions about possible corruption in the top echelons of Germany’s government with the involvement of Russia’s intelligence. The dependence on gas from Russia is aggravating the energy crisis – write Wojciech Jakóbik and Marek Wieroński in BiznesAlert.pl.
Die Welt has reported that from February to November 2021, Russia’s Gazprom donated EUR 192 million to a German foundation called Stiftung Klimaschutz with headquarters in Schwerin, in fact bribing it and securing its favors for the completion and early commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
The government of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, led by SPD’s Manuela Schwesig, who is still holding her leadership position, set up the foundation in January 2021 specifically to ensure the completion of this investment. It was necessary to establish such an organization to bypass US sanctions, that could not encompass entities linked with the governments of America’s allies.
Revealing the size of the financing and the mere fact that it did take place was only possible thanks to numerous rulings issued by the local court in Schwerin. In order to look into the suspected meddling, the parliament of the Schwerin land appointed an investigation committee, which, after the summer break, wants to interview the first witnesses. In addition to Minister President Manuela Schwesig, questions will be answered by Gazprom lobbyist and former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, as well as Putin’s confidant and head of Nord Stream 2 AG Matthias Warnig. Probably Angela Merkel and Olaf Scholz will also be summoned, because allegedly they knew about the plan to establish a foundation already in 2020.
The committee will also examine the role of the Russian intelligence – its influence on members of the regional government, including the current Interior Minister of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Christian Pegel (SPD) who, as a lawyer and, previously, minister of energy, drafted the charter of the foundation. The findings look sensational, as it has been purported that Pegel hammered out the regulations at secret meetings with Russians, during which no notes were made, and which were not documented in any way.
The foundation is currently in liquidation, but the articles of association allow the transfer of millions of euros to its liquidators.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which runs from Russia to Germany, could be completed thanks to the cover provided by Klimaschutz Stiftung. However, the pipe cannot be used as its certification has been put on hold by Germany’s Federal Network Agency, and US sanctions introduced on NS2 after the Russian aggression on Ukraine. The energy crisis is increasing energy prices in Germany, which is encouraging some commentators to argue for launching gas transfer via the pipe despite the war in Ukraine.
Critics of Germany’s policy towards Russia, which has led to increased European dependence on Russian gas, argue that the Russians could increase supplies via alternative routes.
The Kommersant daily data show that gas supplies from Russia reached 115 million cubic meters a day in August. This is 3.5 times less than in the same period in 2021. Less gas flowing into Germany means energy prices are going up. They have already exceeded EUR 477 per MWh in contracts for the next year on the EEX exchange. This is six times more than in the same period last year, and twice as much as two months ago. Dependence on Russian gas could potentially paralyze Germany’s and Europe’s response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. From this point of view, the possible corruption around Nord Stream 2, as well as the dropping gas supply Europe’s been experiencing since the summer of 2021 could be part of Russia’s preparations for the invasion.