Germany And Russia Express Outrage Against The United States For Wanting To Sanction European Companies Involved In Nord Stream 2 Pipeline. This Is Only A Sign Of Further Polarization Between The US And Germany

By Theodore Shoebat

The Trump administration has announced its plan to impose sanctions on all European companies involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which will facilitate the direct transportation of natural gas from Russia to Germany. European officials have expressed their outrage about this. For example, the Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg just recently lashed out: “We reject the extraterritorial effect of the sanctions. This is unacceptable,” stated Schallenberg in an interview with Die Presse.

Schallenberg stated that the pipeline is simply a diversification of energy and does not infringe on the interests of Ukraine. When the Austrian Foreign Minister was asked about American plans to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the European Union, he replied that “Europe has other interests”. Angela Merkel, during a press conference with Vladimir Putin, expressed her disapproval of the sanctions:

“This project has been legitimized through the new European legislation. We must see it through … We believe that extraterritorial sanctions are the wrong way, and therefore we will continue to support this project, as we did in the past.”

The Russians have also expressed their exasperations regarding US sanctions. Russian press secretary Dmitry Peskov, for his part, slammed US sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as “a perfect example of unfair competition”, saying that Washington is imposing more expensive gas on Europe. He went on to say that both “Moscow and Europe dislike US sanctions on Nord Stream 2, as these measures violate international law”.

Recently there was a joint press conference between Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin who affirmed during the talk that Russia could complete the creation of the pipeline but that the only hurdle was time. As we read in the Wall Street Journal:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday a major Russian gas pipeline to Europe would be delayed due to U.S. sanctions on the project, a slight setback to a German-Russian venture that has emerged as a major flashpoint in both countries’ relations with Washington.
The $10.5 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline will double the capacity of gas Germany imports from Russia—a project the U.S. fears will further deepen Europe’s high reliance on Russian natural gas—offer Moscow political leverage over Berlin and boost revenue for Russian companies.
The pipeline will run parallel to the existing Nord Stream pipeline, which already supplies a large amount of Russian gas to Germany.
Last month, the Trump administration imposed sanctions targeting all businesses and individuals participating in the project’s construction. Soon afterward, Swiss-based contractor Allseas Group suspended laying pipes.
Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy company, initially targeted the pipeline for completion by the end of 2019. More recently, Russian officials have said that it would be ready by this summer.
On Saturday, flanked by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was visiting Moscow, Mr. Putin said he hopes the project would be finished by the end of the year or the first quarter of 2021.
Putin explained the situation of time constraints regarding the pipeline:
“We will, of course, be able to finish it on our own, without enlisting our foreign partners … At issue is the time frame. No doubt, the completion will be pushed back by several months.”
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will further deepen relations between Germany and Russia, and with American pressure on the Europeans to cut economic ties with Moscow, the Germans will be gradually distancing themselves from the USA. What we are seeing a polarization of the Western world, with Germany incrementally separating herself from the American worldwide security web. In the words of Gerald Schneider and Patrick M. Weber:
The American sanctions against the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline , which is to supply Russian gas directly to Germany in particular through the Baltic Sea, have further deepened the gap between the transatlantic partners.
If the US really carries out and imposes sanctions on European companies, it will spark an outcry and reverberate throughout Germany a very damaging message: the Americans don’t care about/or hate us and we Europeans must look after ourselves, to steer our own destiny and to place ourselves on the atlas in a position of prominence and world power.”
Germany is not seeing the enterprise of the pipeline as something for the interests of Europeans in general, but a benefit for Germany’s geopolitics. In spring, the three most important institutions of the EU – the Commission, Parliament and the European Council – opposed the German Nord Stream policy. Eastern Europeans countries like Poland are in general not in favor of the pipeline as they fear a dependency on Russian energy. The Americans are using the sanctions as a way to pressure Germany to stay within the sphere of US markets and away from Russia. The American market is tremendously more attractive than the Russian market, so then why is Germany risking her relations with the US to pursue this pipeline? It appears that this is more geopolitical than anything: by creating the pipeline Russia further bypasses Ukraine and Poland (both US allies) and will avoid billions that she has been paying to Ukraine in transit fees; moreover, Germany and Russia will further distance themselves from the American sphere of power and form an economic axis. There has already been talk coming from the highest echelons of political power within the EU about Europe eclipsing the US. In 2018, the then head of the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker, declared in a speech some of the most hardline rhetoric that we have lately been seeing coming out of Europe:

“At this point, we have to replace the United States, which as an international actor has lost vigor, and because of it, in the long term, influence”

These words were said as a response to the US withdrawing from the Iran Deal. Trump’s pulling America out of the Iran Deal has proven to have a ripple effect in Europe in the sense that rhetoric towards the Americans has become more intense. Economic pursuits regarding trade with Iran have also been enveloped with tension as a consequence of the US’ withdrawing from the Iran Deal. This was indicated in a trade agreement between Germany and Iran as a way to bypass American sanctions. As one report from Holly Ellyat explains:

“Europe should look to bypass U.S. payment systems by creating its own financial channels, a European monetary fund and international bank transfer system like SWIFT, Germany’s foreign minister has said. Heiko Maas called for the setting up of independent payment channels which could avoid U.S. sanctions targeting any firms that do business with Iran. … Writing in the German Handelsblatt newspaper, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the setting up of independent payment channels, largely as a way for European businesses to avoid U.S. sanctions targeting any firms — whether inside or outside the U.S. – that do business with Iran.

The Americans wanted to sanction European companies who had business dealings with Iran and this was a way to avoid such economic punishment. Heiko Maas, Germany’s Foreign Minister, made it clear that he did not want the Americans to control Germany’s trade dealings, stating indefatigably: “we will not let you act over our heads. Therefore, it was right to protect European companies from legal sanctions”.

So we have two situations, which are both interlined within the same geopolitical context, that are taking place. We have the US telling Germany that they cannot do deals with Iran; and then we have the US telling Germany that they cannot have a pipeline between itself and Russia, and this is occurring as Germany pursues her own destiny, or as Merkel put it: “It is no longer such that the United States simply protects us, but Europe must take its destiny in its own hands.” These occurrences are interlinked and together this concatenation is bubbling with tension in which the Americans are trying to keep their grip on a German eagle that wishes to ascent to her own power.

The Americans are trying to maintain their leverage over the world; but Germany’s obstinance is proof that the US is losing that leverage over the most powerful country in Europe. But here is another thing that comes to our attention: if the United States really wanted to stop Germany from having this pipeline, then why weren’t sanctions authorized earlier? Why now when the pipeline is almost done and its completion inevitable? Its as if there are elements in the US that want to see Germany revolt.