As tension in Ukraine ratchets up, investors and business leaders with regional interests are closely monitoring their risk profiles. What would return to a Cold War era geopolitical landscape mean? Western oil companies like BP, ExxonMobil and Shell with extensive Russian operations are certainly asking this question.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier recently weighed in on these issues in an interview posted on the Federal Foreign Office’s website. Here is his response to a question about whether Russia is entitled to a sphere of influence similar to that enjoyed by the Soviet Union:
“Since the end of the Cold War the world has become a very different place. For us Germans this has been a great boon, enabling us to regain our unity. No one has the right to turn the clock back and resurrect a vanished bipolar world in which geopolitical spaces belong either to the East or the West. And one reason that’s not going to happen is the entry of new players onto the international stage. There are countries in Asia and Latin America with growing economic clout which aspire also to greater political influence. This means that no country anywhere, including Russia, can expect old-style geopolitics to go unchallenged.”
And his response to whether a constructive dialogue with Russia is needed:
“The question implies that there are ample other good instruments available to us. That, I may point out, is not the case. Unless of course we assume that a policy of breaking off contacts and sanctions will somehow get rid of Russia’s restrictions on Ukrainian imports and ensure cheaper gas for Ukraine. Since I don’t share these hopes, I’m doing my utmost to get serious negotiations also between Russia and Ukraine going as soon as possible.”