This is how it hurts big German companies to get out of the Russian business

"We are deeply shocked by the military violence in Ukraine and very concerned about the threats to peace and stability in Europe." This was the beginning of the statement issued on February 28 by the German firm Daimler Truck AG, the truck section of the vehicle manufacturer Daimler, a company on which brands such as Mercedes-Benz or Smart depend. Four days after the start of Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, Daimler Truck had already decided, according to its statement on February 28, "to suspend activities in Russia with immediate effect until further notice."

Half a year after the start of that war, Daimler is among the companies that are now described in Germany as writing off millions of euros that they bet on Russia and that, in view of the more or less accelerated economic disconnection of the country of Vladimir Putin of the Western democracies, they don't look like they're going to be able to recover.

The Daimler consortium is not an isolated case. The technology company Siemens or the chemical firm BASF, the latter with a tradition of being highly dependent on Russian natural gas, are in a similar situation.

Those three great names of the German economy, considered the locomotive of European growth, have appeared in recent days in the evaluations presented by the economic newspaper Handelsblatt as an important losing trio of that disconnection from Russia. Daimler, for example, has 2,000 million in assets in Russia that the German newspaper saw in "danger".

For Siemens, the exit from the Russian market, especially in the railway sector, has already cost 1,100 million euros, according to the aforementioned media. The multinational, shortly after the start of the war, issued a statement -on March 1- in which it realized that it was putting on 'pause' all its business and deliveries of orders to Russia because of the invasion against Ukraine. "We have stopped new business, we continue to review the sanctions and their impact on our business," read the Siemens statement, which alluded to the international economic measures imposed against Russia for its offensive against Ukraine.

Now, from what the Handelsblatt publishes, it is already known how great the impact of Siemens' decisions will be in Russia. BASF, on the other hand, seems to be burning 72.7% of the capital of the energy firm Wintershall Dea, run by the Russian businessman Mikhail Fridman - Dia's main shareholder through the Letterone company - and linked to the frustrated Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, an infrastructure linking Russia with Germany by the Baltic Sea that the German authorities have left frozen by the invasion of Putin's Army. BASF has another 1,100 million euros staked in Wintershall Dea.

Even today, the CEO of BASF, Martin Brudermüller, is one of the great opponents in Germany of the idea of ​​an embargo on Russian gas. Asked in April about a possible German embargo on Russian gas, Brudermüller responded with another question to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. “Do we want to see with our own eyes the destruction of our economy?” he asked himself.

His company is one of those that best embodies the dependence on Russian natural gas that Germany fell into when it considered Russia a reliable source of energy. That idea, however, has been shattered, as they understand in Berlin, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine was launched. In this sense, the German Economy Minister and Deputy Chancellor Robert Habeck said this summer: “We have to accept that Putin is using the gas against us”.

In 2021 it has been estimated that up to 55% of the natural gas that Germany bought came from Russia. By virtue of such percentages, Germany has seen the “great client of Gazprom”, the great Russian gas company.

According to the Handelsblatt accounts, up to 10,000 million euros that the large German firms had placed in Russia are now in a situation of great uncertainty. The same happens with the 2,000 million euros that the German gas company Uniper had dedicated to its participation in Nord Stream 2 and in the Russian energy company Unipro. Uniper, the large German – and European – buyer of Russian natural gas, has already been bailed out by the German state this summer. In the first six months of the year, according to recent accounts of the company itself, it has already registered just over 12,000 million euros in losses.

For another big firm in the German chemical industry, such as the Linde Group, withdrawing from Russia has so far cost €901 million, according to Handelsblatt, which describes the Allianz insurance group losing €600 million due to the drop in the value of securities. of Russian and Belarusian debt that you have in your accounts. Belarus, a country on the eastern border of the European Union, is also playing an active role in the war against Ukraine launched by Putin's Army in February.

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