Moscow’s Manufactured Chill

Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, a former foreign minister of Denmark, has a great article on the politics behind Nord Stream in the Moscow Times, suggesting that in any other country, Gerhard Schröder would be prosecuted for corruption for taking a Gazprom job after using political office to help their business.

At first glance, there seems to be no problem. But the real reason that Russia wants to build Nord Stream, which is more expensive than the existing gas pipeline network, is that it will enable Russia to interrupt gas supplies to EU member countries like Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine, while keeping its German and other West European customers snug and warm.

Countries that have good reason to fear a Russian manufactured chillhave loudly proclaimed that Nord Stream is politically rather thaneconomically motivated. After all, it would be much cheaper to expandexisting land pipelines than to build new ones under the sea. Moreover,Russia’s ability to meet future gas demand from commercially viablereserves suggests that Nord Stream could be used to cut off gas salesto unfavored clients.

Yet these concerns have been pushed aside by the powerful pro-NordStream lobby, led by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who,having approved Nord Stream while in office, was quickly hired byGazprom after he left it. In most democracies, such a move would havequickly received prosecutorial attention. But no serious investigationof the propriety of Schröder’s dealings was ever initiated, perhapsbecause of the scale and importance of German-Russian economic ties.