With one sentence, Olaf Scholz equals a breach of official duty. The chancellor was “always sure” that Putin uses energy supplies as a weapon.

It is a statement by the chancellor that either cannot be true or is tantamount to a breach of official duty. Olaf Scholz said yesterday that he was “always certain” that Vladimir Putin “uses energy supplies as a weapon”.

That’s why he asked his employees “as early as December” to check what would happen if Russia stopped supplying gas. “It was, I think you can say that here, at a time when the vast majority didn’t think it was likely, but I did think it was possible.”

Scholz said these sentences at the mechanical engineering summit, an important event – mechanical engineering is probably the most important backbone of the German economy, which is currently on its knees because of Putin’s war and the sanctions imposed by the West.

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What a Federal Chancellor thought and said in the past – especially in a foreseeable time – is not only a question for historians. The credibility of a head of government depends on this – and in turn on whether the population trusts the chancellor to lead them through the crisis.

Olaf Scholz has long been working on the story of himself as a kind of “Super-Olaf” – the man who has everything in view and therefore deserves trust. This became obvious in an important Bundestag debate in the summer. More on that later.

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First of all: Scholz’s remark that he was “always certain” that Putin was using energy as a weapon raises serious questions, namely:

If Scholz was “always certain” of the geostrategic dangers of one-sided Russian energy dependence: why did the chancellor then cling to the narrative of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a “private-sector project” until it really no longer worked?

Most recently, Scholz made this statement when Putin’s squad of soldiers had already deployed, a week before the war began – in a joint press conference with the Russian dictator. By the way, Putin said at the time that German consumers should be happy about the pipeline, since they could now get Russian gas much cheaper.

How does Scholz’s order to his people in December to deal with the consequences of a Russian delivery stop fit in with the fact that the Chancellor was still justifying the pipeline in the same month? That was after the first EU summit that Scholz attended as chancellor.

There, Latvian Prime Minister Krisianis Karins accused Putin of using the pipeline to blackmail the EU. Scholz was completely unimpressed afterwards: “With regard to Nord Stream 2, it is a private-sector project.”

If Scholz was “always sure” that Putin would use gas as a weapon against the West, how does his statement from July 2021, fallen in the chancellor candidate duel with Annalena Baerbock and Armin Laschet: “There is the wrong idea in the USA that that we are very dependent on this Russian gas. However, if you look at the energy mix in Germany, that is not correct.”

If the chancellor was “always sure” about Putin’s energy-war intentions, why did he try to stop the Americans from sanctioning Germany over Nord Stream 2 with a billion-dollar deal? That was in August 2020, Scholz was Chancellor of Angela Merkel as Federal Minister of Finance.

In August 2020, Scholz offered his then American counterpart Steven Mnuchin that the federal government would support the import of American fracked natural gas with one billion federal funds if: in return the US government waived sanctions against Germany because of the pipeline.

Six months later, in February 2021, this had become public. The Greens, then in the opposition, demanded clarification from Scholz – which they never got. What also became known: Several SPD MPs knew the Scholz offer to Mnuchin.

If Scholz had no illusions about possible attempts at blackmail by Russia, why didn’t he fall in the arm of his then cabinet colleague and party friend Sigmar Gabriel when he, as minister, justified the sale of Germany’s largest gas storage facility to Gazprom? On October 26, 2015, Green MPs, including the current Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, submitted a small Bundestag question to the Federal Ministry of Economics, which is led by Gabriel.

The Greens asked about the consequences of the Gazprom-Wintershall deal (German gas storage facility for participation in a Russian gas field) for energy security. Gabriel’s State Secretary Rainer Baake replied that energy security would “not be affected” by the sale of the storage facility. Baerbock and her party friends also asked about Nord Stream 2. Gabriel’s Secretary of State: “The intended expansion of the Nord Stream pipeline is an entrepreneurial project. In principle, the construction of new infrastructure is to be welcomed.”

If the dependence on Russian gas was allegedly always so problematic for him: why did Scholz and the SPD, with their support for the “environmental foundation” created by Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig, do everything to ensure that this dependence on Russian gas could remain?

If Scholz was “always certain” that Putin would use energy as a weapon, why did he have to cringe at all? Scholz at the beginning of June at the East German Economic Forum in Bad Saarow: “We have relied too long and too one-sidedly on energy supplies from Russia. The old equation that Russia is a reliable business partner even in times of crisis no longer applies.”

Scholz has corrected the story about himself as a troubled chancellor and his alleged farsightedness with regard to Putin in one important point. In the general debate in the Bundestag on September 7, Scholz reacted to attacks by opposition leader Friedrich Merz (CDU) on him as follows:

“I want to make that very clear: I asked the responsible ministers back in December: what happens if we get into trouble with deliveries from Russia? We carefully prepared for this up to the outbreak of the war, and then in this situation we made decisions that are far-reaching and have already been implemented far-reachingly – something that no one else has prepared for.”

Scholz describes himself as a prudent chancellor. Yesterday at the mechanical engineering summit, however, Scholz went further. And got caught up in problematic contradictions in his self-glorification:

If he was “always certain” that Putin would actually go to war on energy, he should never have justified the Nord Stream pipeline. However, if he justified himself in the knowledge of Putin’s intentions, then he would have violated his oath of office to protect the Germans from this foreseeable damage.