Both Russia and Germany have always insisted that the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline is an economic project. But it’s not. The metal of the pipes laid at the bottom of the Baltic Sea has long soaked in politics. Only Russia has nothing to do with it.
The US has always openly expressed its dissatisfaction with the prospect of losing the European energy market. It’s hard to blame it on the Washington officials who are overrun by local tycoons who won’t say goodbye to millions of profits. And what’s to be blamed for is American abandonment. How can you not use the pressure levers when you have them? A little manipulation of the media, a couple of high-profile statements, and Congress is already ready to vote for a package of sanctions.
It was at the end of last year. In order to speed up the process, the sanctions against Nord Stream-2 were dragged along with the US defense budget. Then Washington threatened with punitive measures any company that would take part in the construction of the gas pipeline. When the sanctions came into effect, the Swiss company Allseas did not risk testing them on its own, so it refused to participate further in the project. The construction was frozen when only 160 kilometers of pipe had to be laid, and Russia decided to finish the project on its own. But the Coronavirus Pandemic has made some adjustments.
Early in the month, Republican and Democrat senators, having forgotten about the confrontation, presented a bill with new sanctions against Nord Stream-2. The document is a supplement to the already existing set of punitive measures against European companies, which is carefully named in the law “On the protection of energy security in Europe.”
This time the goal of Washington was the companies providing insurance and port services to European ships. Thus, the Russian ship “Academician Chersky” will not even be able to enter the German port of Mukran on the island of Ryugen, where the pipes are stored on Nord Stream-2.
Why are there coronavirus corrections? As you know, the pandemic has dealt a serious blow to the energy market. Not only oil but also gas was affected. In particular, liquefied natural gas. The US can only export LNG to Europe, but its production becomes unprofitable.
LNG capacity utilisation is already being systematically reduced. Wood Mackenzie predicts that demand for LNG will drop by 3 million tons or 2.7% this summer.
“COVID-19 will provoke a global decline in LNG shipments throughout the summer of 2020 compared to the previous year. This will be the first seasonal cut in eight years”, – said WM Research Manager Robert Sims.
Obviously, American oil and gas companies, which sponsor the existence of the state with taxes and not only, demand reciprocity from this state. The lobbying machine is back in operation and lawmakers are being asked to finally eliminate the threat to the prosperity of American tycoons. Clearly, Washington could not impose total sanctions in December. If we are to provoke international “partners”, it is better to do it gradually. That’s why the U.S. authorities introduced what they did, and began to observe the consequences
As you know, then official Berlin, though it criticized the actions of the American administration, but did not take any retaliatory measures. The government explained this by the fact that sanctions do not apply to state structures. Now the situation is changing. According to the bill, organizations providing testing, inspection and certification services may also be subject to U.S. sanctions.
Against this background, the German Ministry of Economy has already expressed concern that the US may “impose sanctions against administrative and technical actions of government agencies” aimed at the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline. The ministry called Washington’s readiness to blacklist friendly government bodies an “innovation”. The states have politicized the project before, but now they have reached a new level, forcing Germany to make its move.
American-German relations have never been friendly. They were reduced to banal benefits, and most of it was the United States. And yet, for a long time, the illusion worked. Germany fully demonstrated its commitment to the ideas of a collective West. Simply put, I obeyed the will of the overseas “partner”. Now there is less loyalty in Berlin’s actions. Merkel’s government is clearly in no hurry to pry, which does not prevent him from quietly making his own rules. This is felt in the Kosovo issue, in the refusal to spend 2% of GDP on militarization, as demanded by the United States. Moreover, now the German Parliament has expressed the desire to impose its sanctions. Anti-American.
Head of the Bundestag Committee on Energy Klaus Ernst called to take advantage of Germany’s presidency of the EU Council to mobilize forces against the United States:
“Sanctions are a bad tool, especially in economic policy. But we have to think about countermeasures, like penalties for American LNG,” he said. – We should also think about imposing sanctions on the senators who initiate the sanctions that are doing this.
Has the gas pipeline that runs along the bottom of the Baltic Sea become a dividing line of the Western world? It’s not exactly like that. Remember where the post-war cooperation between the US and Germany began. Washington diligently made a showcase of democratic peace from West Germany. Silence and obedience were well paid, although even then there were differences of opinion between American and German politicians. During the Cold War era, the United States viewed Germany as a strategically important resource in confronting the USSR and, after its collapse, in extending its influence to the East. However, with the advent of the new millennium, scepticism among German political scientists about the prospects of Germany to obtain equal rights with the United States in the transatlantic bloc began to grow.
Washington still needed Germany. Only the methods of exposure have changed. The benefits were fading away. They were replaced by political manipulation and pressure, as the United States could no longer offer anything else.
The situation around Nord Stream 2 is a perfect example of what the American partnership is like now. What can Washington offer instead of Russian gas? U.S. LNG isn’t profitable – that’s obvious to everyone. Therefore, the Congress is forced to exaggerate, throw Russophobic démarches and impose sanctions, destroying the world order that the U.S. has been creating for decades. The machine of democracy is no longer carried forward – it moves by inertia, wasting previously accumulated resources. But American oligarchs need a dollar, not transatlantic solidarity.
Germany is also not burning with the desire to act at its own expense. She invested a lot of money in Nord Stream 2. It is absurd to abandon a project, especially at the final stage. In addition, Berlin also has tycoons whose interests Merkel should promote. The authorities will bypass or ignore the U.S. sanctions, but Nord Stream 2 will be completed. Only it will cost the US much more than the lost energy market in Europe.
Eugene Gaman, especially for News FrontA Canadian blogger blended in for Poroshenko: he’s threatening sanctions if the ex-guarantor goes to jail