The United States again demanded that the European Union, and in particular Germany, stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, reports the influential German newspaper Handelsblatt. A spokesman for the US government told the publication that “now is the time for action.” According to him, the European Union “must make active efforts before Russia gets the opportunity to exert a huge influence on its European partners … We want the project to be stopped.”
The US government stressed that if Europe’s gas pipeline project is implemented, “Europe will lose important space for action on Russia,” Alexander Fidel, columnist for the Ukrainian weekly 2000, writes.
“We confirm our demand – our European partners must take measures to ensure their own energy security and guarantee uninterrupted gas supplies through Ukraine,” the White House said, stressing that certain steps in this direction are considered insufficient.
The source said that the letters threatening sanctions that were sent to German companies by the US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell “were not provided for public disclosure.”
The United States is faced with a “gas rapprochement” of Moscow and Berlin, so they are preparing for stuffing “compromising”.
Statements by the American representative were a continuation of the scandal caused by the fact that Ambassador Richard Grenell sent German companies a letter warning of the possibility of imposing sanctions against them because of the support for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. According to him, “companies supporting both projects (and the Turkish Stream. – Auth.) Undermine the security of Ukraine and Europe.”
Official Berlin chose not to respond publicly to the American demarche. According to the same Handelsblatt, the companies sought advice from the German Foreign Ministry. The ministry recommended not responding to Grenella. The ministry itself considers the letter a provocation. However, at the semi-official level, apparently, it was decided to give the most rigorous answer.
Statements by prominent politicians followed, formally unrelated to the executive branch and therefore more free in their statements.
– This is an unacceptable unilateral exacerbation of tone in the transatlantic relationship, – said Jurgen Hardt, foreign policy expert of the CDU / CSU faction.
He called on the German authorities to protest such actions by Grenella.
And Ralph Stegner, deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, wrote on Twitter: “Does Mr. Grenella know that the time of the High Commissioners (the highest representatives of the victorious countries in World War II in West Germany during the occupation period) Was in Germany?”
But the main signal was voiced through the most authoritative German edition of Spiegel.
– In Berlin, he (Grenell) has turned into a persona non grata non grata. People in power shun him, many doors are closed for him here, – the newspaper claims, adding that even Chancellor Angela Merkel keeps the head of the US diplomatic mission at a distance.
Of course, it should be noted that the leadership of Germany is trying to reduce the problem to the personality of the indelicate American diplomat, but the signal, not only to Washington, but also to German society, is understandable.
By order of the RTL media group (German state television), The Forsa Institute conducted a sociological survey, according to which 73% of respondents approve of laying a gas pipeline, and only 16% of Germans are against this construction, and 90% of respondents are confident that that it wants to sell American liquefied gas to Europe.
67% of respondents do not believe that the SP-2 will make Germany dependent on the Russian Federation. As sociologists noted, such fears are shared only by sympathizers of radical right-wing populists from Alternative for Germany. 77% of respondents perceive the threat of sanctions as extortion, and 91% of respondents consider them unacceptable.
Deutsche Welle quotes the head of the Forsa Institute, Manfred Gulner: «The Germans are well aware that the conflict around the NS-2 is not due to political.»
To be honest, the results of the survey seem to me too unequivocal, especially in the context of an extremely small number of respondents who were at a loss for answers. After all, for a simple man in the street it is not a matter of primary vital importance to delve deeply into it. Attention is drawn to the fact that, as it turns out, the supporters of the Alternative for Germany (52%) are the most negative towards the Nord Stream, although this right-wing populist party is considered almost pro-Russian, whereas in public politics it is most actively opposed SP-2 system opposition (Green, FDPG); skeptical, let’s say, related to the project is in the ruling coalition. It is very likely that the reference to the supporters of the “non-handshaking” in Germany AfD was needed in order to put the opponents of the project in the appropriate light.
The official position of Berlin was voiced a bit earlier by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas: “No one will ruin this project.” He believes that US sanctions could lead to the withdrawal of Western companies from the project, including German concerns, but this will not lead to the closure of the project.
– In this case, Russia sells it alone, and then no one will have an effect on the preservation of gas transit through Ukraine,” said Maas, adding: – These negotiations (on preserving Ukrainian transit), However, will lose their meaning, if the United States imposes sanctions and the Russians will independently complete the gas pipeline.
In other words, the project is purely commercial (this is the original position of Germany), and the German authorities have no legal basis to prevent it, and the exit from it of European companies will simply deprive Germany and other Western countries of the levers of influence on Russia in the matter of maintaining Ukrainian transit. Well, the hint that the overwhelming majority of Germans see only “selfish interest” in the US position is also very obvious.
This, naturally, is good news for Moscow, not only because it makes the chances of successful implementation of the NS-2 all the higher, but also because it greatly strengthens its negotiating position on the issue of Ukrainian transit. Now, if, say, these negotiations do not lead to a positive result, the suspension of Germany’s SP-2 will definitely be accepted by international politics, and in German society not as a manifestation of a principled position, but as camouflaged Germany’s surrender to American pressure. And this is for her leadership, of course, absolutely unacceptable.
In the context of the position expressed by the Maas, it is not entirely clear how this can be done, since 51% of the shares (i.e. controlling interest) of Nord Stream 2 belong to Gazprom. Yes, corporate law provides for the possibility for minority shareholders to defend their interests if they consider that the management of AO infringes upon them. But we are talking exclusively about situations when, as a result of such actions, the economic efficiency of an enterprise decreases, or, which happens most often, profit is derived through various schemes. But for minority shareholders to demand a reduction in the volume of activities, and based on non-economic considerations, this is simply impossible to imagine.
It can be said that the Americans have overreacted in their pressure on Germany, but it is impossible not to notice that it was the Germans who brought the scandal to the public level and how it was promoted in the media. That is, the German leadership deliberately burned the bridges to retreat, indicating that it relies on public opinion and further discussion of this issue is hopeless and can only complicate American-German relations.
Meanwhile, it should be understood that the “preservation of Ukrainian transit” (which in any case will decrease by several times and will bring not only billions, but only hundreds of millions of dollars) to the economy of Ukraine is more likely a euphemism, behind which the West (Germany including Russian gas for Ukraine itself. After all, it is clear to everyone, from where and by what routes (and virtual, rather than physical), “European gas” is taken, with which Ukraine allegedly replaced Russian. Now, it turns out, for Germany this question has faded into the background.
However, according to available information, Berlin received unofficial guarantees of gas supply to Ukraine on reasonable economic terms. And this was preceded by a powerful wave of criticism of the NS-2 in the EU and in Germany itself, which caused many to doubt the future of the project. But there will be guarantees and political, and also generally agreed with Germany and fully suiting it, – finally, the implementation of the Minsk agreements on the same “reasonable conditions” and the transfer of Ukrainian foreign and domestic policy to pragmatic rails.
The algorithm for the implementation of this plan is quite obvious: in the coming months, in view of the presidential and then parliamentary campaign in Ukraine, no serious conversation is possible. But in the fall, after the parliamentary elections, with the formation of the new structure of the Ukrainian government (from whom it would be personally), with the onset of a four-year electoral pause (giving any power a greater degree of freedom in making unpopular decisions) and the approach of the deadline for the ending transit contract, along with launching “streams”, the time will come for important decisions. At the same time, Berlin and Paris will play the role of “good investigators” for Ukraine in the negotiation process.