German environmental organization possibly inspired by Kremlin: report

Manuela Schwesig, Minister-President of the federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern; Vladimir Putin, Russian dictator. Photos: Adam Berry/Getty Images; Kremlin Press Office / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Climate and Environmental Protection Foundation (Stiftung Klima- und Umweltschutz MV, or Klimastiftung MV) has been criticized since its inception for supporting the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. More information keeps surfacing, which “makes it increasingly clear,” said one German politician, that the idea to establish the foundation “came directly from Russia”.

Officially, Klimastiftung MV was dedicated to projects protecting the environment, whereas in reality, its purpose was to circumvent U.S. sanctions against the Russo-German pipeline.

As the “Bild” daily reported, the Minister-President of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern federal state, Manuela Schwesig, “fought for years to continue Kremlin’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline. She ignored warnings from the U.S. Poland, the Baltic States, and Ukraine. When the Americans applied the sanctions, Schwesig established a bogus foundation to finish the construction of Putin’s pipeline”.

The Mecklenburg-Vorpommern government led by Manuela Schwesig (Social Democratic Party, SPD) established the Klimastiftung in 2021. The construction of the pipeline had been concluded, but it had not been put into operation due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

According to a journalistic investigation conducted by the “Welt am Sonntag”, Nord Stream 2 AG, a subsidiary of Gazprom, could play a greater role in establishing the foundation than it was previously assumed. The newspaper points to the digital version of the foundation’s draft charter, which shows that it had been authored by a law firm that has worked for Nord Stream 2 AG several times.

Christan Pegel (SPD), the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Minister of Internal Affairs rejects these accusations.

“The state parliament and government have made their own decision, independent from [outside] influences, to establish the Climate and Environmental Protection Foundation,” Pegel said last week. According to him, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern authorities have not been influenced by Nord Stream 2 in their decision-making.

The opposition is strongly critical of the state government, however.

“It is shocking that an attempt was made to hide who was pulling the strings behind the scene,” said Hannes Damm, a politician with the Green party specializing in energy. The Greens are a part of the federal coalition government formed together with SPD and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), but they are in opposition in the MV state parliament, where the coalition is formed by SPD and The Left.

As Damm stated, the new revelations take the top place “on the list of scandals surrounding the Climate Foundation.”

According to Franz-Robert Liskow, the head of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Christian Democrats (CDU), “according to the most recently established facts, it becomes increasingly clear that the idea to establish the foundation did not originate in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, but directly in Russia”.

He accused the SPD of a lack of political will to clarify the situation.

“Gazprom or Nord Stream 2 have apparently offered Ms Schwesig the right way to enforce their geostrategic interests and ordered their own lawyers to do the necessary work on the wording,” said Liskow.

René Domke, the deputy head of the FDP faction in the state parliament, told the newspaper that “now we see the confirmation, that the influence of Gazprom in establishing the foundation was much greater than it was previously suspected, and that Kremlin’s arm reached at least so far as the [state] cabinet.” Mr Domke called for Ms Schwesig to explain to the state parliament “what she knew, when, and from whom, and do so without leaving anything out.”

Federal MP Philipp Amthor (CDU) is skeptical about the MV government’s declarations.

“The touching story by Ms Schwesig and Mr Pegel, that the state government came up with the [draft of a charter of the] foundation and merely requested that Gazprom proofreads it is extremely wobbly,” Amthor told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) Internet media outlet. “The key question is: was Gazprom the cook, and Schwesig just the waitress.”

“Now it is clear. Schwesig was not alone in her fight for dictator Vladimir Putin’s most important energy project but she closely co-operated directly with Putin’s entourage,” wrote the “Bild” daily in early March.

Since 2018, Schwesig met with Matthias Warnig, a long-time managing director of Nord Stream 2 AG, seven times. “Bild” calls Warnig “Putin’s most important energy manager in Germany”.

As the “Zeit” weekly reported, “the former Stasi [communist East Germany’s secret police] man Warnig and a long-time KGB agent Putin have been friends for decades”. According to the weekly, no one in the West “has a closer relationship with Vladimir Putin than Matthias Warnig”. The two have met hundreds of times since the 1990s. “They hunted, fished, and feasted together.”

When Putin’s wife had a car accident in 1993, Warnig went to Russia and brought Putin’s children with him to Germany. Warnig’s children, in turn, were taught skiing in Davos by Putin himself. Warnig was also supposed to visit Putin already after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The events surrounding the Klimastiftung are currently subject to an inquiry by an investigative commission of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s state parliament.