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Energy diplomacy: West Germany, the Soviet Union and the oil crises of the 1970s

Energiediplomatie: Westdeutschland, die Sowjetunion und die Ölkrisen der 1970er Jahre
[journal article]

Bösch, Frank

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Abstract This article analyzes West German energy policy and negotiations with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Archival sources from the West German government show that long-term energy diplomacy became a carefully built link which guaranteed cooperation even during political crises,such as the one in 1980/81. This article argues that energy diplomacy catalyzed Brandt’s Ostpolitik. In particular, natural gas pipelines implied mutual trust within a stable relationship, which led to further collaborations, including cooperation in nuclear power. It points out that, from this perspective, 1973 was not exactly a turning point, and some grandiose plans in the years after the first oil crisis failed. Furthermore the article shows how the second oil crisis in 1979 increased cooperation cooperation between West Germany and the Soviet Union, although this strained West Germany’s relationship with the United States. Archival documents reveal that energy policy matters remained wellcalculated and persistent. Thus, the Soviet Union became a more reliable partner than many Arab countries.
Keywords Federal Republic of Germany; old federal states; USSR; cold war; energy policy; energy supply; crisis; crude oil; natural gas; economic cooperation; nuclear energy; diplomacy; Ostpolitik; policy of détente; economic policy
Classification International Relations, International Politics, Foreign Affairs, Development Policy; Special areas of Departmental Policy; General History
Document language English
Publication Year 2014
Page/Pages p. 165-184
Journal Historical Social Research, 39 (2014) 4
Issue topic The energy crises of the 1970s
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works