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Latest survey: Germans continue to see Russia as an important economic partner85 percent of Germans are very or quite concerned about the Ukraine crisis / Even in the current political situation, Russia is considered a reliable partner for business and the energy supply / The majority do not believe that economic sanctions can contribute to solving the political crisis / 71 percent of Germans firmly believe that economic relations help to improve the political relationship

Berlin / St. Petersburg. The German public opinion research institute Forsa has conducted a representative survey, commissioned by Wintershall, in the run-up to Russia’s largest economic forum, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which begins today, Thursday 18 June. The survey examined how Germans view German-Russian relations. More than 1,000 people in Germany were interviewed by Forsa from 10 to 12 June. The survey revealed that the majority of Germans continue to see Russia as a reliable economic and energy partner – despite the current political conflict.

“While most Germans are sceptical about the effectiveness of the current economic sanctions against Russia, they firmly believe that close economic cooperation with Russia can have a positive effect on the political situation, and should be intensified,” explains Professor Manfred Güllner, founder and Managing Director of the Forsa institute.

Economic sanctions against Russia are a contentious issue among German population – majority does not believe they are effective

The Ukraine crisis and its impact on the relationship between the West and Russia continues to be an important issue for the Germans. No less than 85 percent of them say that they are very, or at least quite, concerned about the political escalation of the crisis. Only 13 percent are not worried about the Ukraine crisis. However the Germans are divided on the question of whether the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU and the USA are right: 50 percent think it is right to apply pressure this way, but 41 percent do not support the sanctions.

But only about a third of the German population (34 percent) are of the opinion that the economic sanctions against Russia can actually contribute to solving the current political crisis. A majority of 59 percent does not believe that the sanctions form part of the solution. This scepticism about the effectiveness of economic sanctions remains largely unchanged compared to similar surveys conducted in the autumn and summer last year.

Russia continues to be seen as a reliable economic and energy partner

Despite the Ukraine crisis and the political dispute it has caused, 52 percent of Germans still consider Russia to be a reliable economic partner. Specifically pertaining to natural gas and other energy supplies, Russia’s reputation is even more positive: for 56 percent of the German population see Russia as a reliable energy supplier. Only 40 percent do not see Russia as a reliable energy supplier.

“In view of the current political conflict, and the escalating cycle of sanctions and threats that we see in both the West and in Russia, this positive figure is encouraging,” says Mario Mehren, CEO of Wintershall, Germany’s largest internationally active crude oil and natural gas producer. “Russia has major reserves of natural gas and oil which are essential for Europe’s supply security. Russia has always been a reliable supplier, even in times of political crisis. I think it is a very good sign that the majority of Germans recognize this.

”Majority of Germans strongly believe: economic partnerships can help to improve political relations

Good business partnerships can play a role in improving political relations between Germany and Russia: more than two thirds of Germans (71 percent) share this view. In contrast, only about a quarter of them (26 percent) do not believe that good economic relations can influence the political relationship positively.

Since most Germans share the conviction that economic cooperation can have a positive impact on political relations, it is no surprise that the large majority of the population is in favor of intensifying economic ties with Russia. No less than 75 % of Germans would welcome it if economic relations between Germany and Russia were more intense in future than they are now.

“The actual economic cooperation with Russian partner companies is going well and enjoys success,” Wintershall CEO Mario Mehren confirms. “Wintershall experiences this daily in the joint ventures we have in Russia. There is trust here, and a clear commitment to cooperation. Our task as a company is to work on this day by day. It also strengthens the foundations for successful cooperation in future.”

According to information from the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce (AHK), around 6,000 companies with German participating interests are currently active in Russia. Thus, the number of German companies doing business on the Russian market remained virtually constant over the last year.

forsa Gesellschaft für Sozialforschung und statistische Analysen mbH
Tel. +49 30-62882-0

Wintershall Holding GmbH, based in Kassel, Germany, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BASF in Ludwigshafen. The company has been active in the extraction of natural resources for 120 years, and in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas for over 80 years. Wintershall focuses on selected core regions where the company has built up a high level of regional and technological expertise. These are Europe, Russia, North Africa, South America, and increasingly the Middle East region. The company wants to expand its business further with exploration and production, selected partnerships, innovation and technological competence. Wintershall employs some 2,500 staff worldwide from 40 nations and is now Germany’s largest, internationally active crude oil and natural gas producer.

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Contact: Anna Bungarten