As Germany Slams Russian Gas ‘Power Play,’ Controversial Ex-Chancellor Visits Moscow to Talk Energy

Berlin ( – Reports that Germany’s controversial former chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, has flown to Moscow supposedly to negotiate over energy supplies, are expected to attract fresh criticism back in Germany.

Schröder earlier described the trip as a “holiday,” but his wife, So Young Schroeder-Kim told Spiegel on Wednesday that her husband “is negotiating energy policy in Moscow, not on vacation.”

The trip comes as Germany faces supply cuts by the Russian state gas giant Gazprom, which has reduced the flow through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, currently the most important conduit for Russian gas destined for Europe, to just under 20 percent of capacity.

Schröder has been a key figure at the center of Germany’s energy ties with Russia, having championed construction of Nord Stream 1 and chairing the company, but in the process attracting suspicion for his close ties to President Vladimir Putin – even in the build up to the invasion of Ukraine.

After Schröder met with Putin in March, just days after the invasion began, Germany’s federal government responded to political and social pressure by stripping him of his rights as an ex-chancellor to maintain a publicly-funded office.


Further pressure eventually forced Schröder to reject his nomination to the Gazprom board – which been put forward before the invasion – and to resign from his position on the board of Rosneft, Russia’s state-owned oil company and largest oil producer. (Rosneft has been sanctioned by the U.S. and E.U. for years over the Kremlin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.)

Schröder’s trip to Russia now, despite the controversies and amid international tensions over the invasion, came after he commented earlier this month that he “will not give up my opportunities for talks with President Putin.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov downplayed the visit, telling reporters “there is no meeting [with Putin] as such, but we do not rule out a possible contact.”

Schröder’s office has not responded to queries about the trip, and what or with whom he would with be negotiating.

On Wednesday, the federal government described Gazprom’s gas cuts through Nord Stream 1 as a “power play.”

“At this point in time supply contracts aren’t being honored,” government spokesperson Christiane Hoffman said in Berlin. “What we are seeing is indeed power play, and we won’t allow ourselves to be impressed by that.”

The reduction is the second after Gazprom reduced the flow ahead of scheduled maintenance in mid-July, a move that had already stoked fears in Germany of a complete cut off. Hoffman dismissed Gazprom’s argument that reduced supply was for technical reasons, noting that a dispute over a repaired turbine had been resolved.

Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate confirmed the reduction

“Gas flows from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline are declining,” it said. “Following the reduction in flows announced for today they are currently at 19.5 percent of their maximum capacity.”

“The situation is tense and a further worsening of the situation cannot be ruled out,” it said.

The ministry added, however, that gas supply in Germany was nevertheless currently “stable.”

Germany remains heavily dependent on Russian gas, but has so far reduced that dependence from 55 percent of its total consumption in 2021 to 35 percent since the war began.

That said, gas accounted for only 15.2 percent of electricity consumption in Germany in 2021, with 39.7 percent coming from renewable sources, 18.8 percent from lignite (brown coal), and 11.8 percent from nuclear, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

Russia also accounted for 35 percent of Germany’s oil consumption and 45 percent of its coal consumption in 2021.

The latest gas squeeze prompted France to offer Germany 20 terawatt hours of gas – equal to about two percent of German consumption – during the winter months, a French energy ministry official said on Wednesday.

The gas reduction comes a day after the European Union agreed to a plan to reduce natural gas consumption by 15 percent in solidarity with Germany.

The plan has been met with criticism on a number of grounds, however, such as whether a 15 percent reduction would be enough to make a difference.

Further, the plan operates on a voluntary basis – although it would become mandatory if the Kremlin ordered a complete gas shutdown – and it exempts various industries. Several member-states, including Ireland, Malta and Cyprus (which are not connected to other E.U. countries’ gas networks) are also exempted.


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