Following US newest sanctions towards Russia, Germany reacted against this new wave of sanctions:

Germany threatened on Friday to retaliate against the United States if new sanctions on Russia being proposed by the U.S. Senate end up penalizing German firms.

The Senate bill, approved on Thursday by a margin of 98-2, includes new sanctions against Russia and Iran. Crucially, it foresees punitive measures against entities that provide material support to Russia in building energy export pipelines.

This seems to be economically related, as some German companies are involved in export pipelines projects:

Berlin fears that could pave the way for fines against German and European firms involved in Nord Stream 2, a project to build a pipeline carrying Russian gas across the Baltic.

Among the European companies involved in the project are German oil and gas group Wintershall, German energy trading firm Uniper, Royal Dutch Shell, Austria’s OMV and France’s Engie.

However, according to this source, EU has an opposite approach when it comes to energy politics:

In the midst of growing conflicts over the expansion of the German-Russian Nord Stream pipeline, the European Union (EU) Commission has taken steps over the past week to reduce European dependence on Russian gas

East European countries seem to be among the most vocal against the pipeline between Russia and Germany:

The Nord Stream 2 project, meant to pipe natural gas from Russia across the Baltic Sea into Germany, unleashed a blizzard of opposition, particularly from Eastern European countries and even former President Barack Obama’s administration, after it was announced in 2015. Some critics say the pipeline doesn’t make economic sense and isn’t needed; the original Nord Stream pipe is only about half used. And many worry it would redouble Europe’s reliance on Russian energy imports and make it easier for Moscow to use energy as a blunt political tool to strongarm neighbors.

Question: why does Germany seem to not favor EU energy independence?

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    IIRC, part of the rationale was to diversify supply. Not from the producer, but from issues with the country the gasoduct runs through. For example, between 2005 and 2009 there were a series of disputes between Russia and Ukraine that led to Russia cutting down gas shipment through Ukraine and gas shortage down the line (Central Europe)
    – SJuan76
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 20:38
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    Perhaps Germany is unhappy that the US is effectively bullying them into buying gas exclusively from the US (which may be more expensive) and abusing their powers of sanctions. Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 7:11
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    Gemanyy of course has a massive energy problem called the "Energiewende". It is trying at the same time to close nuclear plants as well as reduce carbon emissions. That's a bit of a problem as it's a country with fairly dark, cold winters. That effectively excludes solar, and wind is unreliable. Natural gas might not be carbon-neutral, but it's much better than the peat Germany currently burns. But that leaves open the question, why Russia?
    – MSalters
    Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 23:36
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    The pipeline is about reducing reliance on Ukraine. Russian gas isn't easy to replace in the short-term, it's not like there would be a magic bullet Germany would ignore for no reason. It has also been investing in renewable energies or energy efficiency, it's not like “being dependent” was a policy goal.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 20:48
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    @Bregalad Et pourtant elle tourne… Of course, there are complications and trade-offs, all renewable energy sources are somewhat seasonal and/or weather dependent. There are also solutions to smooth production, like pumped storage. And even with a lower efficiency due to transportation or storage, solar is far from “useless” (the word I was responding to). Point is, it's not all-or-nothing and the kind of (pseudo-)common sense arguments MSalters and you are relying upon are not very useful.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 12:20

3 Answers 3


It's probably because the "not favouring EU energy independence from Russia" is totally made up.

Look at the first quoted material: It clearly states that Germany threatens to retaliate if Trump take actions that are damaging to German companies. In this situation we have American sanctions, an American explanation why Europe should be happy with these sanctions, and Europeans that clearly don't accept America's self serving reasoning.

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    Yes, but building a pipe from Russia into the heart of Europe seems to increase relying on Russia's gas, which is clearly against energetic independence from Russia. Of course, whether this is good or bad is debatable, but this is against EU politics.
    – Alexei
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 11:59
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    @Alexei Who says it increases reliance on their gas? Why couldn't their reliance stay the same? Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 4:50
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    "Theoretically, this could be used to shift the gas transfer from current pipes which transit countries with political trouble (e.g. Ukraine), so there is no actually dependence increase." That is probably the point. Russian gas already flows to Europe, it is not like this is a new situation. But the Ukrainian-Russian conflict has endangered this flow in the past.
    – Thern
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 10:14
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    @Deduplicator What? They were simply correct. Commented Sep 29, 2022 at 21:13
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    @Deduplicator sounds like already debunked talking points to me Commented Sep 30, 2022 at 16:46

If excuses could be burnt to produce electricity, we'd be all as rich as Bahrain.

But it can't, so we ain't. It's not just like if Mrs. Merkel could snap her fingers and pop a clean fusion reactor near Munich or Berlin. With closing nuclear plants, Germany's only chances are, long-term, renewable energies currently under development, and short term, fossil fuels. Which the only one available in Germany is coal, which is extremely dirty.

Natural gas is an obvious solution, but then you have only so many options:

  • Russia: first global provider. Closer and cheaper. Unreliable due to its political troubles with Europe, specially with other former Soviet countries.

  • Libya: a few years ago, a totally unreliable dictatorship promoting terrorism on European soil. Now it's way worse.

  • The US rest: extremely expensive. Gas should be shipped liquefied in special ships equipped with advanced technology.

With those options, there's only one path to even the most inept politician in the world: buying from Russia, but tackling with the reliability issues. Which is done by making a pipe that crosses no other countries between seller and buyer.

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    I find it very confusing, because Qatar is shipping natural gas: euractiv.com/section/energy/news/… May I ask the source of your claims?
    – user14816
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 6:40
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    @Tlen Oh, I didn't know that Qatar had this technology. However, by your own article: "It remains a question, however, whether LNG becomes a viable alternative to Russian gas, as its price is generally expected to be significantly higher than the price of gas coming through pipelines."
    – Rekesoft
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 13:12
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    "what about Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE?" Are these states any more reliable or politically less problematic than Russia?
    – Thern
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 10:17
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    LNG production is indeed expensive and too small to replace German gas imports from Russia in the short term but it makes no sense to mention the US while omitting Qatar (largest producer for many years, a quarter of the world production). We are not talking about restricted technology, there are plants in Australia, Malaysia, Algeria, Indonesia, Angola, Trinidad and Tobago, Yemen (!) or indeed even Libya. You also forgot to mention Norway which is a major exporter to the rest of Europe (through pipelines, not LNG ships).
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 1:01
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    "It's not just like if Mrs. Merkel could snap her fingers and pop a clean fusion reactor near Munich or Berlin." actually, she could have. By not closing nuclear power plants, she could have transition Germany away from coal entirely, and away from fossil gas partially
    – njzk2
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 21:49

Why would it?

Russia has been an extremely reliable partner for over 50 years, no matter the geo-political situation. Russia never used it as leverage or turned it off.

Here's a good (but long) look at the question: https://www.ost-ausschuss.de/sites/default/files/pm_pdf/German-Russian-Energy-Relations-since-1970.pdf

Oil, gas and coal supply from Russia to Germany (and other european countries) is a win-win for all involved. Russia gets foreign currency to trade with, Europe gets energy that it needs for its industry and residences. Supply has been reliable. The dependency, if you want to call it that, is mutual. If this trade suddenly disappeared, Russia would be in as much trouble as Germany/Europe.

The main force against the whole thing is the USA, with a long history going back to the 80s and Reagan of open opposition. Clearly, the interests of the USA are more important here than the interests of Europe. Recently, with LNG becoming a possible export from the USA to Europe, the geo-political issues became friends with economic interests and that is why we have even stronger US opposition than before.

As to why quite a few european and german politicians jump on this bandwagon? The transatlantic relations, think-tanks and leadership academies they went through, obviously. Prices for gas in Europe have sky-rocketed recently. Anyone who has the interest of his country in mind can not possibly be acting against this energy supply that has been working flawlessly for half a century in that situation.

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    When you say "Russia never used it as leverage", do you mean as leverage against Germany specifically? That might be true but in general it's patently untrue. There's a long history of Russia threatening to restrict or outright restricting the supply of gas in the pursuit of political goals. This has repeatedly caused actual disruption in eastern EU countries.
    – TooTea
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 10:41
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    @TooTea yes, I mean Germany specificially because that's what the question was about and what I have knowledge about. Thanks for adding those additional details.
    – Tom
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 12:31
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    @TooTea To the best of my knowledge, which is confirmed by the introductory text of the article you linked, the incident you’re quoting was caused by Ukraine diverting gas from its transit pipeline and refusing to pay. This can hardly be viewed as Russia pursuing political goals and indeed is another argument for why Germany might want a pipeline that avoids Ukraine (even if they’re denying it publicly).
    – Chortos-2
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 15:45

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