Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 9 June 2021
Austria Is Betting on Russia Where Austrian Officers Get Top Jobs
Full support for Nord Stream 2, “peace in Europe only with Russia,” and giving jobs to former top Austrian officials is how Austria cultivates its relations with Moscow. Vienna has just become one of Moscow’s most important allies in Europe.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was the top foreign politician to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Also, Austria’s most prominent businesspeople took part in the summit, including the CEO of ÖMV, a financing partner of Nord Stream 2. And the gas link was high on the agenda. Vladimir Putin said Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline could soon be ready to start pumping gas to Germany while Alexander Novak, a deputy prime minister in charge of the energy industry, assessed that his country was set to finish the line by the end of this year. Austrian officials seemed satisfied with the ongoing construction of Nord Stream 2. Kurz, who spoke at the St Petersburg event by video link, said that his country “just like Germany, continues to support Nord Stream 2” as the project “aligns with Vienna’s economic interests.” In an interview for the Russian agency TASS, Kurz said that Russia and the European Union should discuss their differing opinions and forge cooperation “everywhere they have common interests.” Peace in Europe is only possible “with Russia, and not against it,” Kurz added. He is another Austrian politician to openly praise cooperation with Putin’s regime. Those who retired from politics found a job in Russia, regardless of their political affiliation. Kurz is a member of the Austrian People’s Party, or ÖVP, whose long-serving chairman and former Austrian chancellor was Wolfgang Schüssel, a member of the board of directors at Russia’s Lukoil. In turn, Karin Kneissl served her time as foreign minister, a post she was helped into by the far-right FPÖ. The St. Petersburg meeting coincided with a report that she had been given a seat on the board of directors of the Russian state-controlled oil industry giant Rosneft. Her appointment was confirmed by a vote of Rosneft’s shareholders at the firm’s annual general meeting. Austria’s ex-foreign minister will join Rosneft as an independent director in the 11-strong body chaired by Germany’s former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who also serves there as an independent director. Another German official there is Matthias Warnig, a former East German intelligence officer and long-term friend of Vladimir Putin. These two are members of Rosneft’s board of directors and serve a pivotal role in the Nord Stream 2 project. Warnig is in charge of Nord Stream 2 AG, a company building the gas link, while Schroeder is responsible for its board of directors.
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