Putin/Scholz meeting

News conference following Russian-German talks 15 February 2022

Following Russian-German talks, Vladimir Putin and Federal Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz made statements for the press and answered journalists’ questions.

The US and the UK must be very unhappy about the Putin/Scholz meeting, which was all about enhancing the well-developed economic relationship between Russia and Germany, including Russia’s supply of energy to Germany which began in the 1970s.  

The opening statements by Putin and Scholz at the meeting are at http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/67774 and the opening statements at the press conference after the meeting are at http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/67774.  There is no record yet of the question and answer part of the press conference (in which Scholz suggested that Ukraine would most likely not become a NATO member while he and Macron were in office).

Here’s an extract from Putin’s statement at the press conference:

“I have mentioned more than once that Germany is one of Russia’s key partners. We have always strived to strengthen interaction between our states. 

“We have the impression that the Federal Chancellor, too, is interested in further pragmatic and mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia.

“This applies primarily to economic ties, which are as intensive as ever. Germany is Russia’s second biggest foreign trading partner after China. Despite the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic and volatility in global markets, by the end of 2021, mutual trade grew by 36 percent and reached almost US$57 billion. German investment in the Russian economy exceeds US$21 billion, while Russian investment in Germany amounts to US$10 billion. About 4,000 companies co-owned by German investors are operating in Russia. …

“Energy is an important part of bilateral economic cooperation. As early as the 1970s our countries successfully implemented their landmark gas-for-pipes project. Since then, Russia has reliably supplied gas to Germany and other European countries. 

“Today, Russia provides over a third of Germany’s energy needs – both oil (34 percent) and natural gas (35 or even 35.4 percent). In 2021, Germany received 50.7 billion cubic metres of Russian gas. 

“I would like to note that even during the high exchange quotes for gas and the shortage in Europe, we have continued to deliver fuel to German customers for the prices in our long-term contracts.

“As you know, the national regulator of the Federal Republic is charged with certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which has technically been complete since last December. This is one of Europe’s largest infrastructure projects. It is designed to substantially enhance energy security in Europe and facilitate the resolution of pan-European economic and environmental goals. As I have said on many occasions, this is strictly a commercial project without any hint of politics. 

“I would also like to note that we are ready to continue distributing gas through Ukraine even after 2024 when the current contract for the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine expires. Naturally, we will do this if there is demand from European importers, if it is profitable and if Ukraine’s gas transport system is in proper technical shape.”

Scholz ends his statement with:

“To conclude, I will say the following: it is absolutely clear for us, Germans, and for all Europeans that sustainable security cannot be built against Russia but only with Russia. We are united on this point, both in NATO and the European Union. Therefore, a solution must be found. However difficult the situation is now, I would not call it desperate. Now we must act courageously and responsibly.

“I will say that war in Europe has become unimaginable for my generation, and we must make sure it remains so. Our duty as heads of state and government is to prevent a military escalation in Europe.”

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