A scandal of dignified proportions is looming in our northern neighbors these days, which sooner or later could also affect Austria. The prime minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Manuela Schwesig from the SPD, is currently the center of attention. The lady belongs to the closest circle of Putin friends in the party, together with Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil, former Schröder secretary and current SPD chairman Lars Klingbeil, Schröder’s ex-wife Doris, former Brandenburg Prime Minister Matthias Platzeck and Martin Schulz, the failed lead candidate of the 2017 election and several other senior Reds. In this context, the “Frankfurter Allgemeine” reported on a regular “Hanover-Moscow connection” and on “conspicuously high” donations to the SPD in Lower Saxony from the circle of friends of Russia.
The fact that this connection also has a side branch to Vienna would be just as unsurprising as any findings that some of the money came from Moscow via detours. “In order to remain credible, the party must now relentlessly disclose its various Kremlin connections,” the magazine “Focus” rightly demanded recently – and for all parties that have held government responsibility in Austria in recent decades, this step of transparency would be just as necessary, after all, the interdependence of state-related companies in particular with Russia is also right in this country impressive. “This is a general problem that has become apparent over the past five or six years – the close interlocking of politics and business. We no longer only have oligarchs from the East, we have long had small Austro-oligarchs as well,” said former OMV boss Gerhard Roiss in a “profil” interview before the start of the war.
But the affair surrounding Manuela Schwesig has a second, no less interesting aspect. Because in cooperation with two major environmental protection organizations, she had a “climate foundation” set up in 2021, which was to accompany the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia ecologically – and at the same time help to circumvent US sanctions against this project. The controversial foundation was financed with 20 million euros, which the Russian state-owned company “Gazprom” transferred.
A German prime minister, equipped with Putin’s money, supported a project that even then more far-sighted observers described as “Russia’s weapon against Ukraine”.
Although she admits today that this would have been a mistake, none of the victims of Russian war crimes will come back to life as a result. Here, too, the following applies: while Germany is now at least beginning to illuminate and make public the web of interests between business, politics and Moscow surrounding the failed Nord Stream 2 project, Austria’s massive participation in it is being increased according to the motto “Go on , there is nothing to see here” discreetly disposed of.
In this context, the question that needs to be addressed in all of Europe and the USA is to what extent the Putin regime has used Western environmental protection NGOs over the past 20 years to implement Russia’s geostrategic goals. This included and includes, above all, making the West more and more dependent on cheap energy from Russia. And for this it is necessary to discredit alternative sources of energy in the West, from nuclear power plants to “fracking”, and thus to prevent them politically.
It is precisely here that Moscow’s goals coincide one hundred percent with those of various ecological NGOs and their political arm, the Green Parties.
There are indications that Russia has discreetly financed such NGOs in the West far beyond the now uncovered “Climate Foundation” in Germany. The French think tank “Fondpol” had already claimed before the start of the war: “We found that Gazprom finances environmental NGOs in particular , who then even provide ministers in certain European countries – e.g. in Belgium – who then apparently made some sort of quid pro quo by defending nuclear phase-out.” The current Green Belgian energy minister, an outspoken opponent of nuclear power plants, was actually a partner in the law firm representing Gazprom in Brussels – a rather adventurous constellation.
As early as 2014, then-NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen claimed: “I have met allies who can report that Russia (. . .) has been actively collaborating with so-called non-governmental organizations – environmental organizations working against shale gas – to address European dependence on imported Russian gas.” (“Guardian,” June 19, 2014.)
In the USA, where a number of such cases of Russia financing so-called environmental NGOs have also become known, two Republican congressmen are now trying to shed light on these connections
The same applies here: Austria is not only not an island of the lucky ones, but not an island at all and is therefore very likely predestined to be the target of Russian desires due to its geographical location. Perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea to set up a kind of “truth commission” that would make Austria’s ties with Russia transparent at all levels.