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Author: Isabelle de Pommereau

Modern East Germany’s dependence on Russian oil evokes old divisions

Germany’s decision to pursue the European Union’s plans to stop importing crude oil from Russia has stirred up social tension in the East German town of Schwedt. Despite reassurances from the government in Berlin, the town, which hosts Germany’s largest oil refinery dependent on Russian oil, is fearful of the aftereffects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

From her office on the outskirts of the quiet town of Schwedt in Brandenburg, a German town bordering Poland that stretches for miles, Gabriele Manteufel points to a huge, sprawling maze of pipes, furnaces and tankers. It all comes together to make a gigantic refinery. Every day the CEO’s sons come by to fill up the family-owned tankers with propane, a by-product of refined oil. They then dispatch the gas to their customers in this north-eastern region.

December 7, 2022 - Isabelle de Pommereau

A lot at stake for Estonia as it shifts away from oil shale

Amidst rising concerns over climate change, the Estonian government has pledged to stop burning oil shale for power generation by 2035. Tallinn will also give up the fossil fuel altogether by 2040. Oil shale, however, has a long history in Estonia and is the country’s main source of electricity. Abandoning its use is not only a climate-related issue, but a geopolitical one as well.

In the weeks immediately following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Estonia’s top brass showed up, one after another, in Narva, Estonia’s third largest and overwhelmingly Russian-speaking city. This included the country’s president, prime minister and defence and interior ministers. They gathered in places never far from the “Friendship Bridge” connecting Estonia’s most eastern city with its Russian sister city Ivangorod. Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that she had come to assert her government’s “commitment to the region's development”.

July 14, 2022 - Isabelle de Pommereau

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