Center for Strategic Assessment and forecasts

Autonomous non-profit organization

Home / Politics and Geopolitics / Russia - Germany: a new alliance? / Articles
Strategic cooperation of Russia and Germany through the prism of geopolitical competition in the energy sector
Material posted: Publication date: 15-11-2017
The desire of States to gain economic power naturally leads them to attempt enterprises for mutually beneficial cooperation. However, the geopolitical struggle often puts this barrier. So, the potential Union of Germany with its innovative technologies, and Russia possesses enormous reserves of raw materials, could change the geopolitical alignment of forces in the world that for many decades causes concern of the USA – a country that strives to maintain its position of a superpower. One of the areas that are subjected to anti-is energy cooperation. This article discusses the geopolitical clash of interests through the prism of gas cooperation.

Russia and Germany play an important role in the global economy. The first is rich in natural resources and holds a leading position in the global production of energy resources, Russia's share accounts for 16,2% of global gas production and 12.1% of oil[1]. The second industrial giant, which holds a key position in the world in many industries high-tech manufacturing.

The Union satisfies both countries. Russia has the opportunity to realize their potential as an energy superpower and to accumulate financial resources for diversification of economy and departure from excessive dependence on raw materials the raw material for saturation of the economy. Germany uses raw materials for industrial development. In the Union, and separately, the two countries are serious competitors of the United States.

In turn, the United States seeks to become a major player in the European gas market. The US position was expressed by the head of Stratfor, George Friedman, who said: "our main task – to prevent the Union of Russia and Germany, because together, they will represent the only real and vital threat to the United States."

The position is not new. In the early twentieth century British geographer and Professor of the University of Oxford Halford John. Mackinder was formed geopolitical concept in which the strategic role in world politics has given the Heartland rich in natural resources of the territory of Eurasia, the control of which would lead to power over the whole world.

Mackinder predicted that the use of the wealth of natural resources in the European part of Russia and Siberia for the needs of industry, will create a "World Empire". Geopolitical genius prefigures what would later dream of the German Haushofer: continental Alliance of Berlin and Moscow.

The spirit of Mackinder permeated all the strategic thinking of America. And for example, the gas cooperation between Russia and Germany can enforce U.S. commitment to the principles of "divide and conquer".

The balance of power after world war II completely changed the geopolitical map of the world. The ruling elite of Germany, was under the influence of Western States were opposed to broad cooperation with the Soviet Union. For the establishment of relations were first and foremost industrial enterprises, interested in the economic rapprochement with the Soviet Union and the restoration of trade relations. In turn, the Soviet Union also sought to normalize Soviet-West German cooperation.

In 1952 with the aim of developing contacts and increasing trade turnover between the countries, the heads of the Federal Association of German industry (BDI), Deutsche Bank, Krupp group and other stakeholders was created by the Eastern Committee of German economy. Despite the absence of diplomatic relations between Germany and the Soviet Union until 1955, the founders of the Committee wanted to conduct the talks in Moscow and the conclusion of transactions that caused a negative reaction on the part of German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, and from the American authorities. This has caused resentment on the part of the coordinating Committee on export controls (COCOM), one of whose tasks was to prevent the development of technologies in the countries of the Soviet bloc. Following the recommendations of the organization, Konrad Adenauer in 1963 imposed a ban on trade transactions with the Soviet Union, justifying the ban by the security concerns of Germany and its allies.

In the late 60-ies of the change of the political elite of Germany made possible the revival of economic cooperation between the countries and to find ways of circumventing the ban on the export of equipment to the USSR. So, Minister of foreign Affairs of the USSR Andrey Gromyko proposed a new model of economic cooperation — exchange of German pipes and equipment to supply gas from West Siberian fields. Thus, the Soviet side laid the foundations of the geopolitical transformation.

Expect gas cooperation has been criticized as from the German side, and their NATO allies – the United States. Industrialist Otto Wolff von Amerongen: "Americans experienced a panic at the prospect of the interdependence of the Germans and their allies in NATO, and Russians, potential adversaries".

February 1, 1970, it was signed an unprecedented agreement to begin supplying natural gas from the USSR to West Germany in exchange for large diameter pipes needed for the Soviet gas pipeline to the West[2].

Andreas Meyer-Landrut, in the 80-ies, the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union: "This transaction was, of course, very important for the development of relations East-West. Germany first played as the "tail" of the Americans, and as an independent political player. U.S. Secretary of state Henry Kissinger did not want the Germans played a special role in the politics of rapprochement of the West with the East, he wanted to keep it under control. But we with our Eastern policy was ahead of him".

However, by the end of the 70 years the world situation has changed - the Soviet Union sent troops to Afghanistan, then the US announced the embargo on trade with the Soviet Union and demanded similar actions from the allies, primarily from Germany, threatening with sanctions against European companies and banks that will be involved in project implementation. The ban on exports to the USSR of equipment for extraction and transportation of oil and natural gas met resistance from the European allies. Even Margaret Thatcher expressed their outrage at the attempts by Washington to slow down the implementation of the "deal of the century"[3].

Valentin Alexandrov, in the 70's-early 80-ies of the assistant to the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR: "the United States exerted tremendous pressure on Germany to prevent further gas cooperation. Openly stated: the Soviet Union needs the money in order to use them for military purposes and to expand the aggression in Afghanistan. But the interests of capitalist production came into conflict with the interests of capitalist policies despite the pressure, in 1981 he held the new deal."

Otto Wolff von Amerongen, 1952--2000 the head of the Eastern Committee of German economy: "I was always convinced that through this transaction originated a permanent means of communication, a reliable bridge for further development, or, more precisely, the revival of the traditional German-Russian relations, largely lost over the decades after the October revolution in Russia in 1917"[4].

Developments in terms of sanctions of isolation and international pressure helped to produce a compromise in international relations with the major geopolitical effect that experts have been named "deal of the twentieth century."

History repeats itself. In our time, actualized the issue of energy diplomacy in terms of sanctions and pressure of anti-Russian block. So, increased power and economic growth of 2000-2007 coincided with the highest – the fifth expansion of NATO to the East. The accession of Russia to the Crimea has led to pressure on Russia from its former adversaries in the cold war and the introduction of the Western world sanctions not only to the isolation of political leaders, but also at undermining the Russian economy. The events in the East of Ukraine and differences on the Syrian issue has exacerbated the problem and gave rise to talk about the strengthening and extension of sanctions, including the embargo of energy. This method was already used in the pressure on Iran and Iraq and showed its effectiveness.

Russian-German relations are complicated by the fact that none of the member States of the European Union cannot be considered as a separate partner. Moreover, as in the days of the "deal of the century", you should consider the impact external forces that are not interested in cooperation between Russia and Germany. Economic and military integration of Germany deprived her of the opportunity to pursue an independent policy without taking into account the interests of allies in the European Union and NATO.

The lack of autonomy in matters of foreign policy leads to anti-Russian rhetoric in the political circles of Germany, despite the negative consequences that arise. So, the pan-European trend of ousting Russia from the European gas market, could lead to the fact that European Union countries will be forced to increase imports through liquefied natural gas (LNG), which in turn will strengthen US influence in Europe.

In the conditions of political tension under the pressure of external factors, Germany and Russia still yearn for the development of mutually beneficial cooperation. In 2012, the country came to the conclusion about the need to expand the recently commissioned "Nord stream", directly linking Germany with Russian gas fields. For the project "Nord stream-2", like its predecessor, consists of two branches, passing under the Baltic sea. To undertake the implementation of such an expensive project, Russia was forced to minimize the risks when transporting gas through a transit country.

Approval of the construction of "Nord stream-2", as previous pipelines connecting Germany and Russia, caused protests on the part of the political elite not only European countries but also USA.

The main opponents of the pipeline construction are the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, since the implemented project would deprive them of a significant part of the budget - transit payments.

The struggle for the interests of the EU split into two camps: on the one hand, there is the interest of business circles of Germany and other developed countries (France, Netherlands) in close energy cooperation with Russia, with another – the intransigence of the countries of Eastern Europe, due to a number of historical facts is not ready to accept the development of sustainable contacts in Germany and Russia without their participation[5].

As in the days of the "deal of the century" 1970, at stake – the project that could affect the entire European Union project on gas. For Berlin, the project "Northern stream-2" is a strategic goal of turning Germany into a Central gas distribution hub in the territory of the European Union[6].

For Russia the opportunity to realize their potential as an energy superpower and to accumulate financial resources for diversification of economy and departure from excessive dependence on raw materials.

Under pressure from both the European Commission and from the United States, Russia and Germany are building a bridge for effective cooperation and development. New challenges for international relations comparable to the situation of the 60-70-ies and the expansion of gas cooperation can play a role analogous to the "deal of the twentieth century". However, this scale of collaboration requires a deep study of the scientific community and an effective energy diplomacy.


[1]Statistical Review: Russia. // British Petroleum. URL: (accessed 15.04.2017)

[2]40 years on the German market. // Gazprom. URL: (accessed 15.04.2017)

[3] V. Y. Katasonov Economic war against Russia and Stalin's industrialization. M: Publishing House "Algorithm", 2014. p. 62

[4]Pipe to infinity. Chronicle of the biggest transactions in Russian-German history. // ID of "Time". URL: (accessed 17.04.2017)

[5] Imagination of Poland in the “Nord stream-2” does not have borders. // The economy today. URL: (accessed 13.04.2017)

[6] When pragmatism is stronger than the unity of Berlin will quench the thirst of gas “Northern stream-2”. // The economy today. URL: (accessed 16.04.2017)

Transition E. K.

RELATED MATERIALS: Politics and Geopolitics