It was recently announced that the US government was pressuring Germany with threats of economic sanctions for continuing to build the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia:
The US ambassador to Germany has warned of sanctions against firms linked to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, the American embassy in Berlin confirmed on Sunday.
A letter envoy Richard Grenell sent to several businesses “reminds that any company operating in the Russian energy export pipeline sector… is in danger under CAATSA of US sanctions,” an embassy spokesman told AFP.
The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) adopted in 2017 targets Iran, Russia and North Korea.
Close Donald Trump ally Grenell’s letter “is not meant to be a threat, but a clear message of US policy,” the spokesman said.
“The only thing that could be considered blackmail in this situation would be the Kremlin having leverage over future gas supplies,” he said.
Construction has already begun on Nord Stream 2, set to double the capacity of an existing pipeline across the Baltic Sea.
Firms including Germany’s Wintershall and Uniper, Dutch-British Shell, France’s Engie and Austria’s OMV are involved in the project.
Combined with the planned TurkStream pipeline across the Black Sea, Nord Stream 2 would do away with the need to transport natural gas to Europe via Ukraine — robbing the country of a factor shielding it from Russian aggression, Grenell said.
The two countries are in conflict over the eastern part of Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russia in 2014.
“Firms supporting the construction of the two pipelines are actively undermining the security of Ukraine and Europe,” Grenell wrote.
Washington’s fears about the pipeline are shared by a number of eastern European Union countries including Poland, and the European Parliament last month passed a resolution condemning the construction.
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel, backed by France and Austria, has so far insisted it is a “purely economic project” that will ensure cheaper, more reliable gas supply.
The veteran leader — a key player in Moscow-Kiev peace talks — says Ukrainian interests will be protected as some Russian gas will still be transported via the country once Nord Stream 2 is online.
Likewise, Nord Stream 2 is also losing support among Germans:
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is running into some trouble amid opposition from the Trump administration.
Support for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in Germany is slipping, according to a report from Bloomberg. Some politicians in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition are moving against the pipeline for geopolitical reasons, citing fears that the project would allow Russia a freer hand in Ukraine.
As it stands, Russia still needs to ship large volumes of gas to Europe via Ukraine. Nord Stream 2 would allow Russian gas to bypass Ukraine, giving Russia more leverage to meddle in Ukraine while still reliably delivering gas to Europe.
Merkel has been supportive of the project, not least because several major western European companies have stakes in the pipeline, including Royal Dutch Shell, as well as major German companies Wintershall and BASF. Last year, Merkel, under intense pressure from the Trump administration and some countries in Eastern Europe, acknowledged that the Nord Stream 2 had geopolitical ramifications and suggested that the project could face roadblocks if the end result was harm to Ukraine. Still, she seemed to want to push the project forward.
However, those efforts are starting to run into trouble. The recent seizure of Ukrainian sailors by Russia is starting to increase unrest within Merkel’s coalition, Bloomberg reports. A growing block of German politicians view the project is a geopolitical liability.
The timing is not great for Nord Stream 2. The Trump administration has aggressively opposed the project for quite some time.
“There is not only Russian gas coming through the pipeline, but also Russian influence,” Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, said in a statement to Bloomberg News.
“Now is not the time to reward Moscow.”
In December, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a non-binding resolution opposing Nord Stream 2. The resolution passed with bipartisan support, calling the pipeline a “drastic step backwards for European energy security and United States interests.” The resolution also called upon President Trump to “use all available means to support European energy security through a policy of diversification to lessen reliance” on Russia.
The U.S. suggested several times last year that it could hit the project with sanctions, and Bloomberg says that such measures could be “imminent.” The U.S. Congress has at times vociferously opposed some of President Trump’s foreign policy goals, but if his administration moves forward with sanctions on Nord Stream 2, it is unlikely there will be a constituency in Washington to defend the project.
While American motivations for derailing Nord Stream 2 are influenced by fears of Russian influence in Europe, the U.S. administration is also undoubtedly trying to force American gas into the European market to benefit American companies. American politicians like to cite European energy security when campaigning against Nord Stream 2, but from the European vantage point, the U.S. government is blocking a reliable source of gas in order to benefit its own companies. To some, that doesn’t sound very much like enhancing energy security.
Last July, President Trump leaned very heavily on European allies at the NATO summit, essentially threatening them with a trade war unless they bought more American gas. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to take in more LNG, although his statements were sufficiently vague so as not to commit the EU to anything binding. “The European Union is ready to facilitate more imports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. and this is already the case as we speak. The growing exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas, if priced competitively, could play an increasing and strategic role in EU gas supply,” Juncker said in a statement last summer.
Russia still supplies about 40 percent of the European Union’s natural gas needs. To be sure, U.S. LNG shipments to Europe have been rising, but despite its recent growth, American gas is still a rounding error in Europe. In the short run, the possibility of severe cold sweeping over Europe could bolster the economics of important LNG from the United States.
Gas demand in Europe is flat, and has been for quite some time. But an array of policies aimed at shutting down nuclear and coal-fired power plants will serve to increase gas consumption in Europe. And with European gas supply not able to keep up, more imports are likely.
That’s exactly why the developers of Nord Stream 2, and its proponents, say a new pipeline is needed. But the Trump administration is hoping to block that project in order to bolster the case for U.S. LNG. (source, source)
Among professional entertainers, one of the key points of doing “magic” shows in the sense of a slight of hand and trick, is the art of misdirection. While one hand is being made the center of focus, the other hand is doing something else that gives the trick the illusion of having been done by some super powers from the magician.
It is a misdirection of focus to believe that Germany is merely abandoning support for Nord Stream 2, and that the US is “pressuring” Germany. The simple reality is that Germany would never rely solely on Russia for her gas supply ever because she knows better from the lessons of history.
Last year, I wrote an entire essay on the significance of Azerbaijan in oil politics. If you have not read that essay, you need to read it because I provide a full analysis based on declassified documents from the CIA archives which confirm the importance of Azerbaijan in her stance as an oil power that works with Turkey and Germany to fuel their war machines.
Germany is a historical military power that while her influence is regional also goes throughout the world. Her main nemesis in continental Europe is Russia, and the story of much of European history is the fight between the Germans and the Russians for power either directly or through a series of proxies. They have been fighting with each other for over a millenia, and the fight is not going to stop any time in the near future.
Technological development and warfare are synonymous, and since the First Industrial Revolution this means the necessity of access to cheap oil to drive the machines that make modern warfare possible. Germany has waged many wars with Russia since the 19th century, and she has known since those days that she needs oil to further her ever present imperial desires.
There are oil fields all throughout continental Europe including in Hungary, Romania, and off the coast of Norway. In World War I and II, Germany would seize these and other fields for her attempts to realize empire, but they never were able to produce enough oil to meet her needs. The next closest source of oil by land is the oil-sands of Baku, Azerbaijan over the Caucasus mountains at the Caspian Sea coast.
As I deduced according to declassified CIA documents and other forms of publicly available documentation, the entire Turanian Basin and Volga region is a highly-kept military secret because it is one giant oil field and is believed to have the potential to dwarf the production of oil almost exclusively associated with the Middle East. Since the most working wells are on the Caspian Sea coastline, naturally the first goal for Germany is to secure those oil fields and cut off Russian access to them. This is why World War II was not decided at Normandy, but at Stalingrad because it was there that determined whether the Russians or the Germans would have control over the Volga basin, which after a brutal five-month battle that cost 2 million lives went in favor of the Russians.
What was true in the Second World War remains true still today. Germany knows that the Russians will obviously turn off any gas shipments to her if a war starts, but from experience she can say that if she wants to defeat Russia in a future war, which she came close to in the Second World War, she will need to secure the Azeri oil fields before any fighting starts, and to secure it in such a way that it will be almost impossible to turn off the supplies to her lest Russia’s own allies and other neutral nations turn against Russia.
The oil pipelines being constructed by land that need to be watched are not those going through Russia, but those going through Germany’s Anatolian ally and friend since the days of the Byzantines and the Goths in Turkey. As we have been documenting, there is a network of pipelines being constructed from Azerbaijan through Turkey and then going across the Balkans as well as under the Adriatic Sea through Italy into Germany. This pipeline is also not limited to Europe, as it links with pipelines coming from Israel and Lebanon in the south and goes all the way into Central Asia, around the Caspian Sea including Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, and with an accompanying high-speed railway system has the potential to connect all the way to China and the Far East.
The Americans, Germans, and Turks, who are working together in the construction of this pipeline, are doing this because outside of going to Africa, is it the only way around Russia due to her large size. What this work does is have the effect of isolating Russia economically, as the nation’s entire economy is virtually non-existent except for the sale of military goods and raw natural materials, and if she cannot sell her raw materials she cannot earn any money. Russia may be large, but she is being cut off from without and is already being choked from within due to the many already existing and serious problems she faces not limited to but including a declining population, rising migration from Central Asia, very low wages, high rates of drug and alcohol abuse, rising HIV rates, pan-Turkish nationalism, threats from the Chinese and the Japanese in Siberia, and simply having a large amount of land and not enough people to work it.
It is not the case per se yet, but given Russia’s economic and political state, she needs the Nord Stream 2 pipeline more than Germany needs it, for while Germany has no natural sources of oil to exploit and has to import what she needs, she has the option of seeking other vendors who are both friendly with her and will give her an agreeable price. This is another reason why she would not likely have accepted Nord Stream anyways, because as Germany is dependent on oil, the acceptance of such a pipeline from Russia would give the appearance of German “submission” to the Russians, which she has always fought against. If one is going to place oneself in a potentially submissive position, and one has a choice to do it with a historical enemy (Russia) or a historical friend and ally for centuries (Turkey), she is naturally going to go with her friend.
The American talk about pressuring Germany to reject Nord Stream is just typical American bragadoccio and both she and Germany know it. The USA gets a chance to assert her “dominance” on the world stage, and Germany gets to continue the act that she has done for centuries, which is to feign one choice and then do another because she always planned to act in the opposite way but only wanted to impart the appearance of making a different choice. If she was going to accept Nord Stream, it would never have been her only option, as she would have found a way to justify building lines with Turkey and she still would have continued her work with the US.
It is wrong to say that history “repeats” itself, because it he literal sense it does not always do so. History is rather a song or a poem, and while the verses at the start may not be the same as those in the latter parts, the basic rhyme remains constant. So it is with relations such as these between nations, where the rhyme of history for Russo-Germanic relations, while positive at times when conspiring against some mutual enemies (such as Poland), they firmly dislike each other and will destroy each other. This is just the rhyme of history repeating once again.