Germany's Uniper nationalization is part of a larger war

As Vladimir Putin called for 300,000 more soldiers and threatened nuclear war, Europe's energy crisis looked set to worsen.
Germany's Uniper nationalization is part of a larger war
Photo: Wolfgang Rattay (Reuters)
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Germany nationalized Uniper, its largest importer of gas, today (Sept. 21), just as Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered a partial military mobilization.

Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Uniper, a Düsseldorf-based energy firm, has seen its business grow strained. It is grapping with soaring prices on account of vastly reduced gas flows from Russia. Russia’s cuts were ordered in retaliation to Western sanctions.

“To fulfill its customer contracts, Uniper has been forced to buy gas on spot market at high prices,” the company said while reporting dismal financials for the first half of the year in August.

The roadmap to Uniper’s nationalization

In July, Uniper chalked out stabilization measures with the German government. At the time, the state took a 30% stake in Uniper. But it wasn’t quite enough.

“Since July, the European energy crisis has escalated further and the severity of the situation has made it apparent that the previously agreed stabilisation measures are insufficient and difficult to implement,” Fortum, the Finnish majority owner of Uniper until now, said in a statement, adding that Uniper has accumulated close to €8.5 billion ($8.4 billion) in gas-related losses.

The state will own 99% of Uniper once the deal is finalized.

A snapshot of European bailouts and nationalizations

Putin adds fuel to the oil fire

It doesn’t look like gas and oil prices will be tamed anytime soon.

Even as Russia loses ground, Putin has refused to throw in the towel. Instead, he is now escalating the war. In a televised address today (Sept. 21), Putin called up roughly 300,000 new soldiers from reserves, and threatened to wage a nuclear war.

Gas and oil prices jumped in the wake of his speech.

Russians are fleeing ✈️

One-way flights out of Russia as selling fast today (Sept. 21).

Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul in Turkey and Yerevan in Armenia—both destinations Russians can enter without visas—were sold out, according to data from Aviasales, Russia’s most popular website for flight purchases.

Where available, the prices were exorbitant. For instance, the cheapest flights from Moscow to Dubai cost more than 300,000 roubles ($5,000). In normal times, these flights cost just over 100,000 roubles.

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