Germany's Sozialistische Zeitung gets it wrong on energy and geopolitics

Christian Zeller
June 19, 2023

Angela Klein exposes an "economic war against the German population?"

On 6 June, the Washington Post again triggered all kinds of speculation with the publication of an exposé story on the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines. The journalists "revealed" without providing substantial evidence that a Ukrainian commando destroyed the pipelines on 26 September 2022. Since then, this speculation has been doing the rounds. A few months ago, Seymour Hersh "revealed" that the US had blown up the pipelines. Significantly, the same circles that followed Hersh's US hypothesis are now following the Ukraine hypothesis....

The German left newspaper Sozialistische Zeitung (SoZ) found the article in the Washington Post so "explosive" that it reprinted it in German on its own website. The news value is limited, however, since similar "revelations" had already surfaced several times before.

The fact is: who destroyed the pipelines remains unknown. Different actors may have had an interest in this. Speculating about this is politically pointless, distracts from who is responsible for this war and obscures that anyway in the first place Russia had pushed ahead with the construction of the Nord Stream pipelines in order to no longer have to deliver the gas through Ukraine and Poland.

Did the Ukrainian leadership extend the war to foreign territory?

Angela Klein's commentary "Blowing up NordStream 2. An act of Ukrainian warfare" is bizarre. A long-time SoZ editor, Klein takes the revelation story as a confirmed finding and inserts it in her own account of the war in such a way that she even insinuates that the Ukrainian defence is waging an economic war against the German population. She also weaves the fighting of Russian rebels in the Belgorod region and the arms deliveries to Ukraine into her narrative in order to accuse the Ukrainian leadership of deliberately provoking a world conflagration, i.e. a world war. Yes, even "attacks on Crimea ... The Ukrainian leadership is doing what it can to extend the war to foreign territory."

Is Crimea foreign to Ukraine? Is it now Russian territory? Is Angela Klein allowing herself to be taken in by Putin's myths here? According to international law, the Crimean peninsula is part of Ukraine. This also applies to the other regions of Ukraine occupied by Russia.

Is the Ukrainian leadership waging an economic war against the population?

Angela Klein mixes up the chronology of events. Completely missing the political and economic realities, tshe spins and opines:

"The Ukrainian military leadership (Zelenskyy is said to have been uninformed about this) has carried out an act of economic war against the German population. It has forcibly cut Germany's economic ties with Russia in order to drive it into energy dependence on the US."

Let us recall the following facts:

The German people never needed the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. The capacities of the existing pipelines were fully sufficient. Initially, even German industry was cautious for this reason, but Gazprom lured with the award of ownership shares in natural gas deposits in Siberia and thus the prospect of high profits.

Nord Stream 1 and 2 were built on Russian initiative to reduce or even avoid the transport of gas through Poland and Ukraine. The construction of the Nord Stream pipelines was directed against Ukraine in order to deprive it of transit fees and to reduce its influence. German governments under Schröder and Merkel, in line with the energy-intensive corporations, considered Ukraine unreliable and wanted to intensify Germany's strategic energy alliance with Russia. German fossil capital wanted to make a big profit. German industry as a whole was keen on the cheap pipeline gas from Russia. Russian and German interests found each other.

The Russian war against the Ukrainian population and above all Ukraine's surprisingly stubborn resistance fundamentally changed the situation. In August 2022, Russia unilaterally stopped its gas deliveries to Germany, having already curtailed them from June. From September onwards, no pipeline gas flowed from Russia to Germany. The pipelines were blown up on 22 September. Putin had thus taken the pipelines out of operation himself in order to influence the public discourse in Germany and because it became obvious that Russia must orient itself economically towards the East.

The pipelines were no longer (Nord Stream 1) or not yet (Nord Stream 2) in commercial operation at the time of the explosions. Even if the Ukrainian military leadership were responsible, how could it wage economic war against the German population in this situation?

Russia began to orient itself more intensively economically towards Asia from spring 2022 onwards. Years before the war, Russia began to significantly expand its fossil fuel infrastructure in the direction of China. Russia has been massively expanding its fossil fuel infrastructure for years. Gazprom is not a normal capitalist corporation, but a central player in the Russian power apparatus, which is now also waging war in Ukraine with its own army.

Germany is far from becoming dependent on the USA for energy. RWE and EnBW signed contracts with US companies to supply LNG in June 2022 - before Nord Stream was blown up. Most LNG for Germany comes from Norway, as well as Qatar, Algeria and Australia. However, the USA was already the largest supplier of LNG to Europe in 2021, especially the southern European countries. German capital's relations with Russian capital do not depend on the existence of the Nord Stream pipelines.

Quite a few leftists argued that the USA was against Nord Stream 1 and 2 in order to get Germany to buy LNG from the USA. This made no sense until the war began. Russian pipeline gas was always much cheaper and flowed until Putin himself turned off the tap in June and August 2022. Nobody in Germany wanted expensive LNG as long as cheap Russian pipeline gas flowed in abundance to industry and households. For more on this, see my analysis of the decades-long strategic energy partnership of German industry with fossil capital in Russia  (In German:

Angela Klein fantasises that the Ukrainian military leadership has carried out an act of economic war against the German population. This is absurd. Putin had already turned off the gas tap himself before. What political and economic power does Ukraine have at its disposal to wage an economic war against the German population? Angela Klein's construction here is not far from the narratives of Klaus Ernst and Sahra Wagenknecht.

From an eco-socialist perspetive the Nord Stream pipelines should be rejected on principle. Whoever made them unusable destroyed unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure. Of course, the purchase of LNG and the expansion of LNG infrastructure must be rejected. That is why we must mobilise against the international LNG offensive. Any extension of the gas age is wrong from a climate policy point of view.

No defensive war? Does the Ukrainian leadership want to escalate the war into a world conflagration?

Moving on, Angela Klein turns her own escalation screw a few dizzying turns further.

"All this has nothing to do with a defensive war. Here, a world conflagration is being ignited in order to "solve" a local conflict. The escalation feared by many sides through the delivery of ever more far-reaching weapons is not only real, it is an unacknowledged goal of Ukrainian warfare."

Angela Klein says Ukraine is not waging a defensive war. So, what else is it then?  Perhaps a war of aggression against Russia? Or a proxy war? The latter, however, would seem to be in contradiction with Klein's theory of an unauthorised Ukrainian attack against the Russian-German pipeline.

Angela Klein is repeating the cheap propaganda of those who think Ukraine is escalating into war.

Let us remember some facts.

Ukraine has never claimed Russian territory. A few hundred Ukrainian army-backed right-wing rebels in the Belgorod region do not change that. Russia, on the other hand, continues to claim to destroy Ukraine as a state, or at least to incorporate large parts of it. Central Russian media regularly call for genocide. What does escalation even mean in this context? Angela Klein believes that it is not so much the daily missile terror of the Russian state against the people of Ukraine, but rather the Western deliveries of anti-aircraft weapons and tanks for Ukraine to defend against these attacks and the terror of occupation that are escalating the war.

With the deliberate or at least consciously accepted destruction of the Kakhovka dam and the blowing up of other smaller dams, Russia is continuing its destructive escalation strategy directed against Ukrainian society. Agricultural land has been destroyed and partially poisoned for years. Let's make this an issue instead of fantasising about an imaginary economic war of Ukraine against the German proletariat.

Angela Klein suggests that a left government would choose a completely different defence strategy. Perhaps, we don't know. But let us remember how Fidel Castro wanted to "solve" the missile crisis in 1962. He loudly criticised Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev for being soft when he withdrew the missiles from the island. Would he even have risked nuclear war? Let us recall how the North Vietnamese leadership around Lê Duẩn "escalated" the war of liberation. Did the Tet Offensive in 1968 really have that much regard for the population and its own forces? Let's stop with the leftist legend-making! Thanks to good air defence systems, the population of Ukraine now has to suffer much less. But it is precisely this protection that the German left wants to deny them.

The more effective the Ukrainian defence works, the smaller the danger of further military escalation and expansion of the war, the sooner the Russian elites will realise that they need an exit strategy from their escalation.

At some point there will be negotiations. The sooner the Russian leadership is made to realise that they will not win this war and that any continuation of hostilities will be accompanied by a loss of power, the sooner there will be negotiations. As long as the Putin regime thinks that a continuation of the war of occupation can serve their interests more than a withdrawal, the war will continue.

With this commentary by Angela Klein, Sotzialistiche Zeitung continues its disturbing lurch towards the Russian war against the Ukrainian population. It has previously not shyed away from serving up conspiracy stories and giving reactionary Putin supporters ample say (see my critique of the SoZ long article by Jacques Baud in May 2022 in Die Freiheitsliebe Supporters of the mafia regimes in Donetsk and Luhansk are also included. To some extent to compensate, the SoZ also published interviews with Ukrainian socialists.

Already in October 2022, Angela Klein praised Sahra Wagenknecht in a commentary for her criticism of the economic sanctions ( Following Wagenknecht, Angela Klein attributed the economic distortions in Germany to the sanctions policy against Russia. There is still no empirical evidence for this.

With its balancing act between half supporting Ukrainian trade unions and half playing down Russian imperialism, the Sotzialistiche Zeitung makes itself expendable.