Historical Social Research

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Frank Bösch: Energy Diplomacy: West Germany, the Soviet Union and the Oil Crises of the 1970s. [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 well-calculated and persistent. Thus, the Soviet Union became a more reliable partner than many Arab countries.

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