The question about the further fate of the project Nord stream-2 is becoming one of the most important issues not only German but also European policy.
“Nothing will stop Nord stream-2”, — said Russia’s permanent representative to the European Union (EU) Vladimir Chizhov in the middle of last week. Following this, the struggle for the construction of the pipeline, the completion of which does not want neither the US nor many forces in the EU, including the “heavyweights” of German politics — the current German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her predecessor, social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder. However, their position, and the attitude to him in Germany vary greatly. But about all under the order: first — the reasons for the US pressure on Germany, not only about the project Nord stream-2.
The US state Department: Germany should accept Russia as a threat
On Friday, the US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo, the TV channel C-SPAN encouraged Germany to treat Russia with more caution than it is now. “Selecting Germany 1% of GDP on defence says that there is not quite ready to accept Russia as the United States is doing — as a serious threat,” said Pompeo. He also stressed that the President of the United States trump expects from German politicians of a different, tougher attitude to Russia. Pompeo has focused on the fact that the United States has opposed the completion of the Nord stream gas pipeline 2, since I believe that such a strong energy dependence of Germany on Russia “threatens its security and the security of Europe.”
Recall that the U.S. Senate is considering now included in the draft defense budget for fiscal year 2021, a new package of extraterritorial sanctions against companies that are somehow involved in the construction of the Nord stream-2. Germany, as we know, does not intend to abandon this pipeline, despite growing pressure from Washington. The new package of American sanctions affected all who will participate in the laying of the pipeline. After the introduction in December last year, the first batch of extraterritorial U.S. sanctions bulldozers owned by the Swiss company “Allseas”, was forced to stop work, although unfinished was only 6% of the total length of the pipeline. “Gazprom” had to strip at the Baltic sea last 160 kilometers to use your vessel “Akademik Chersky”, the only one equipped with a dynamic positioning system, which necessarily requires the Danish regulator. This system allows you to keep the ship at a given point without the use of anchors and mooring, the use of which Denmark prohibits because of the high risk to hurt unexploded ordnance from world war II, remaining at the bottom of the Baltic sea. Now “Academician Chersky” already have the German island of rügen in the Baltic sea. Commissioning of two pipelines with a total length of 2,460 kilometers and a throughput capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year is planned for the end of this year or first quarter of next.
The Position Of Merkel
Angela Merkel called such actions of Washington unacceptable and a “serious burden” German-American relations. Speaking on Wednesday in the Bundestag, the Chancellor said that the kind of extraterritorial sanctions, the planned US does not meet “legal requirements and expectations of Germany.” “We need to recognize that the construction of the pipeline is difficult, but we still believe that it would be right to finish this project. And in this way we are”, she added. The Chancellor also said that her government always considered the Nord stream-2 as purely economic, not political project. And in order to compensate for Ukraine losses from the loss of a part of transit gas, Berlin made her the transit contract.
Of course, the whole story of sanctions is almost blatant attempt at economic blackmail. President trump gives his claims against Germany and its Chancellor Angela Merkel in a wrapper openly Jesuit logic. He doesn’t just criticize Berlin for what he does not want to abandon the idea of the pipeline. Trump primarily focuses on completely unacceptable from his point of view, the alignment of foreign policy priorities of the government of Merkel. Like, we Americans, at the expense of its taxpayers for decades to ensure the security of the Germans. And they saved us money to pay for gas supplies from Russia, which NATO’s Strategic concept, and the “global strategy” of the European Union officially consider as the main threat to the security of the member countries of both organizations. So, in other words, trump asks: why Merkel stubbornly pays its longstanding ally, but pays in full for a potential enemy?
So the White house is at once delicately shifts the burden of responsibility for any disagreements between Washington and Berlin on the shoulders of Germany. Speaking recently at a campaign rally of his supporters in Oklahoma, the President of trump spoke about the recent telephone conversation between him and Chancellor Angela Merkel, which the Chancellor promised that Germany would bring its defense spending to put 2% of GDP by 2030, or, at least, 2032-th year. In response, trump, in his words, said no way: “I said that while the United States and the Federal government of Germany to discuss the cost of weaponry, the American military contingent in Germany will be reduced”. And reminded the Chancellor that Germany is already owed for their safety NATO (read America) more than a trillion dollars.
The anti-Russian card — a trump card in the election campaign in the United States
To American voters this painted tramp picture indicates gross carelessness of Germany against Russia. Especially given the massive information campaign devoted to the alleged Moscow’s intervention in all potentially significant events and elections in the United States and Europe. Increasing the pressure on Berlin, trump tries on the eve of the November elections to kill several birds with one stone.
First, on the part of trump’s attempt to “punish” resting in the natural gas pipeline Merkel, who did not give in to pressure from Washington and its efforts to impose Europe deliveries of uncontested American liquefied natural gas. To Frau kantslerin the American President has accumulated and a lot of other claims. So, the White house is very painfully perceived failure of Merkel to come to the scheduled fall meeting of leaders of the group of seven, as well as the reluctance of Berlin to include in the official list of participants Russia, China and India.
Secondly, it is an attempt to once again trample on the “Russian plot” again guarantees Trump the extra points from the voters, and automatically switches the latter’s attention from the failures of the administration of the White house on intrigues of external forces. Third, anti-Russian rhetoric of the administration trump becomes a strong counterargument to protect it from accusations of excessive sympathetic to Moscow, put forward by the Democratic party of the United States. “Democrats” for several years, continue their attempts to represent trump and his alleged dishonest victory at the presidential elections in 2016 as a “Kremlin project”.
The position of the shredder and accusations of “lobbying of interests of the Kremlin”
The appearance on Wednesday, former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard schröder in the Bundestag Committee for economy and energy as a guest expert on the Nord stream -2 caused a strong reaction in Parliament and a lively discussion in the press.
The performance of the shredder at a hearing on “Ensuring the sovereignty at decision-making in energy policy in Germany and Europe”, have provoked sharp criticism from some MPs from the Left party, who called the invitation of the ex-Chancellor as expert “is wrong in all senses” and “a consummate disgrace, insulting a majority of the members of the faction”. We recall that Gerhard Schroeder is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the company Nord Stream AG, engaged in the construction of the eponymous pipeline, as well as the head of the Board of Directors of JSC Rosneft, and in this regard, it was repeatedly accused of lobbying the interests of Moscow, to the detriment of the European. The representative of the “Left” Laurence gest of Boutin called Schroeder “a lobbyist for Gazprom, which uses its influence to benefit this company, causing damage to the environment”. In some publications in the German media the ex-Chancellor went to and even more.
However, parliamentarians have Schroeder there were defenders. Being the initiator of the invitation of the ex-Chancellor at the open hearings of the Committee, the last Chairman Klaus Ernst (also the representative of the faction “Left”) categorically dismissed all accusations, stressing that such criticism is fundamentally untrue. The MP said that Schroeder was invited as a former Chancellor of Germany, which could contribute to the discussion on the preservation of German sovereignty in the current situation with the sanctions. And we are now talking about it, not about lobbying someone’s interests. The representative of the faction of the social Democrats Bernd Westfal supported in this his colleague, stressing that Gerhard Schroeder is definitely like no other has the most complete information about the project Nord stream-2, as well as on the international context of its construction. And as the person owning such information could make a significant contribution to the evaluation of possible new sanctions that the United States threatened Germany.
The price is much higher
In fact, if you remove the unnecessary verbal peel, we’re talking not much about the historical moment: the question arose about protecting the sovereignty of NATO allies from the other, which is one of the closest partners. Moreover, it is necessary to include the loser in the rubble after the Second world war Germany into a new European reality and to find the mechanism of her “limitations” through the presence of American troops in Europe were cementing the base point for the transatlantic partnership.
But today the balance of the other. Unfolding before our very eyes “the battle for gas,” NATO defense budget — it is a very sad reality for the transatlantic relationship. To trump Washington, twisting from time to time the hands of its European allies, still tried to do it with keeping up appearances. Now we are talking about outright and have no implied pressure on Berlin.
Is the reformatting of the relations of the United States and its allies sent (including through the imposition of sanctions) on strengthening the US position by holding back economic competitors and enemies, both existing and potential. This opinion was expressed on Thursday by the Director of the Moscow Carnegie center Dmitry Trenin, speaking at a regular session of the Primako readings, this time dedicated to the topic “the United States in the vortex of crises.” Of course, the current divisions of Germany and the United States could be the starting point for implementing a more independent foreign policy of the European Union, the necessity of which so much has already been said in Europe in recent years. However, confident that Brussels will be able to withstand the pressure of Washington, no one. Moreover, within the EU there is no common position regarding Nord stream-2, Germany in this issue sufficiently ardent opponents in the face of those of the Baltic countries and Poland. And it is difficult to assume that their choice between Washington and Berlin will be in favor of the latter.
Schroeder against the conformists?
The position of the former Federal Chancellor Gerhard schröder is quite clear: do not succumb to pressure from Washington. In its official opinion on the new extraterritorial U.S. sanctions against companies related to the project Nord stream-2, Gerhard schröder described them as “a large-scale offensive on the European economy and absolutely unacceptable encroachment on the sovereignty of Europe and its energy security.” And called the draft law on new sanctions, which is discussed in the U.S. Congress, “intentional termination on the part of Washington of the transatlantic partnership”. He emphasized that it is not about Russian companies, but about 120 companies from 12 European countries involved in shipbuilding, engineering, insurance, legal support, security, environmental protection, certification, which will be under the threat of sanctions.
In addition to problems from the legal persons, we are talking directly about the European citizens and the preservation of jobs. Thus, ex-Chancellor of Germany, choosing as its main target the Russian “Gazprom”, the United States beat first of all on the European economy. Schroeder insists that, according to him, the project Nord stream-2 does not threaten Europe’s energy security but will provide about the growth in gas demand stability of electricity prices for the European consumer. While the task of Washington is to try to force the Europeans to use on a long term basis expensive American liquefied natural gas.
Former German Chancellor believes that since the project Nord stream-2 have received approval from four European countries, through whose territory the pipeline (Germany, Finland, Sweden and dragged with the agreement to the last, but still consenting Denmark), it is completely legitimate in Europe, and attempts by the White house through sanctions to control energy policy in Europe violate the sovereignty of Germany and Europe as a whole. No state, according to Schroeder, can’t afford that, so the opposition of pressure from Washington — and in the interests of Germany and Europe.
America is now “dancing” just for the money?
As we can see, the administration trump is trying to convey to its European allies that declared the system of common values is, of course, fine, but America is now “dancing just for the money”. It’s either direct financing joint projects, as the same provision in the defense budget, NATO, or the support of allies for his foreign policy disputes or confrontation. To the greatest extent the US is, of course, is now focused on the confrontation with China, but Europe them here unnecessarily. But in “showdown” with Moscow and Washington, of course, expects full loyalty of the Europeans. And the battle for gas and defence budget of NATO is only the first step in a new format of the transatlantic partnership. Potential damage from possible sanctions, the United States is estimated at 12 billion euros of investments will suffer one way or another 120 companies from 12 European countries, for European consumers the cost of gas will increase by 4 billion euros per year. However, indirectly associated with the construction of the gas pipeline Nord stream-2 withdrawal of American troops from Germany will cost Europe much more expensive, inevitably calling to life the old Chimaera of the European continent — the fear of a return to “sovereign normality” of Germany, re-opening for themselves after so many decades of self-restraint, national interests. And where is all this going Europe, is still open.