KASSEL/MOSCOW (Own report) – The German natural gas company, Wintershall Holding GmbH, is intensifying cooperation with Russia’s Gazprom and will receive direct access to large Siberian gas fields. Last Friday, the two companies announced they would finalize an asset swap this year, which would allow Wintershall to participate in the exploitation of two blocks in the Achimov formation of the Urengoy natural gas field. The deal had been signed back in 2013, but was canceled by Moscow in late 2014, because of the escalation of the conflict with the West. This resumption enables BASF’s subsidiary, Wintershall, to continue its rise in the global gas sector. The Austrian company, OMV, since July 1, under the management of former Wintershall CEO, Rainer Seele, is also participating. Gazprom, Wintershall, OMV and other gas companies have agreed to expand the Russia-to-Germany “Nord Stream” pipeline with two more pipelines. German business circles explicitly describe both as “flagship projects” and push for a rapid re-intensification of cooperation at the political level.
MOSCOW/BERLIN (Own report) – Prominent German foreign policymakers are proposing that a “double strategy” be applied in the West’s power struggle with Russia. According to Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, the West should continue to demonstrate a “position of strength.” However, because, at this time, Moscow obviously cannot be subdued by a policy of pure confrontation, a new phase of engaging Russia should be initiated. Talks on EU cooperation with the newly established Eurasian Economic Union could be envisaged. Such a cooperation would return the rivalry “between Russia and the West to the economic field, from that of the military,” according to experts. Last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel had already floated such an option. At the same time, aggression against Russia continues. A US rating agency has just downgraded Russia to “junk level.” Additional measures are in discussion.