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On Wednesday, August 3, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz held one of the most unusual press conferences in his career – a stone’s throw from a huge Siemens gas turbine designed for a gas pipeline Nord Stream 1. Prior to that, he examined the turbine for at least half an hour, tried to look inside, and even had a strange photo shoot, posing against its background. The twenty-ton turbine itself, made on the base aircraft engine and designed for pumping gas into a gas pipeline, he called “impressive technical contraption” and the achievement of German engineers.
At the same time, the Siemens turbine is not a new or unique technology – only in the compressor room station “Portovaya”, where this turbine worked before it was sent to Canada for repairs before February 24, there were six such “technical gizmos”. Siemens supplies them all over the world – for example, to Argentina.
The history of this particular turbine, however, can be called unique. While it was being repaired at the Canadian Siemens plant, Russia invaded Ukraine. And when Canada imposed sanctions against Gazprom in early June, it became impossible to take the turbine out of the country.
Gazprom, in turn, lowered pumping gas to Germany through Nord Stream 1 to a minimum – up to 20% of design capacity. The company explained this with technical problems due to the lack of a “Canadian” turbine and malfunction other turbines, with disastrous consequences for the German energy market. The price of gas, which in Germany is used as a universal and environmentally friendly fuel – many Germans heat their apartments with it – has risen sharply. For example, the Cologne company Rheinenergie has more than doubled since October 1 raises gas price for its customers – from 8 to 18 cents per kilowatt-hour. For a family with an average gas consumption, this means about 1,000 euros of additional costs per year.
Not surprisingly, Germany turned to the Canadian authorities with a request to make an exception and, despite the sanctions, allow the turbine to be taken away in order to deliver it to Russia through Germany. Canada went forwardthe turbine was delivered to the German city of Mulheim, where Olaf Scholz personally examined it.
I convinced myself with my own eyes. There is no mysticism here. Turbine is here. It’s ready to ship, just someone has to say, “Give it to me.” And it will be delivered very quickly, – declared Scholz.
The usually not very temperamental chancellor showed such ardent zeal to send a turbine to Russia that satirists from postillon published on behalf of Scholz, a message that he is ready to personally take the turbine to Russia, attaching it to his car. It’s hardly even a joke. “We cannot take the turbine by sea to the port of St. Petersburg and just leave it on the shore,” Scholz said with regret at a press conference.
Russia does not want to accept the turbine. And seems to be enjoying the situation
However, it is unlikely that the turbine will leave Germany in the coming days. The problem is that Gazprom is not ready to accept it. Russian concern mockingly reportedthat the sanctions imposed against Russia interfere with getting the turbine and putting it into operation (this is true, but Germany has achieved an exception to the rules). It was Russia, which in the past did everything to circumvent the sanctions imposed against it, in this case decided to follow all the rules.
Moscow, even especially this without hiding, is now trying to mirror Germany’s response to the situation in the summer and autumn of 2021. Then she was waiting for a decision from Germany to launch the already built Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and Germany, refusing to make an exception, slowly coordinated this is a decision in local and European instances. As a result, the pipeline was never launched.
“As for the turbine, it is now at the crossroads of three roads: the first [ведет] to Russia, the second – for scrap metal, and the third – to the museum, which, by the way, she deserves, ” writes pro-Kremlin publicist Mikhail Antonov.
Even the rhetoric is similar: at one time, the opponents of the Kremlin also called scrap metal.
Although Scholz’s requests to take the turbine may seem somewhat humiliating from the Kremlin’s point of view, they have important domestic political implications. Aleksey Yusupov, head of Russian programs at the German Ebert Foundation, explains this in a conversation with Meduza:
A photoshoot with a turbine is a conscious act of political communication. It’s just that it’s not aimed at well-educated twitter users, to whom it seems creepy, but at Bild newspaper readers.
According to him, in a situation where the confrontation between Russia and Europe turns into positional phase, both sides are counting on the fact that the “hostile” society will not survive the tests associated with the conflict. Europe expects that sanctions will lead Russians to dissatisfaction with the war, and Moscow that the increased prices for energy and products will irritate the Europeans.
Against this background, it is necessary to strengthen the solidarity of your society, albeit not very gracefully, but pointing out to it the source of problems. Scholz’s photo session with the turbine shows that Germany is doing everything to fix the gas situation, and Moscow is using energy dependence as a weapon. “We have reached the stage when, in order to survive, we need the support of the general population,” explains Yusupov.
Gerhard Schroeder has a simple solution to problems. But they are unlikely to be used.
One of Moscow’s agents is former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who has never broken with Putin and has just returned from Moscow, where he met with the Russian president. Schroeder reappeared from political non-existence in interview Stern is tempting the Germans with a simple solution to their energy problems – the launch of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which will provide Germany with much-needed cheap gas.
But, firstly, according to Yusupov, “Schroeder’s level of “retirement” and toxicity” will not allow him to unite even those who remained in Germany around him. “Putinfershteers”. And, secondly, Germany, according to the political scientist, is already tired of the “special relationship” with Russia, which ended in February 2022, when Berlin, having ceased to be bridge between East and West, in a sense returned to the Western world. Trying to build a special partnership with Putin again, causing discontent in Washington, European partners and Kyiv, Scholz – and any other chancellor – is unlikely to dare in the coming decades.
On the meeting between Putin and Schroeder