My live interview (22 July 2021) on the Nord Stream 2 deal between Germany and USA. with CGTN (London office of Chinese state broadcaster. This was not edited, or I would not post it here.)
I explain the bind which Berlin had put the Biden administration in for agreeing to waive sanctions on Nord Stream 2 (NS2) in return for this bad deal. The German side was playing hardball. Berlin had made clear to Washington (well before Biden arrived in office) that the pipeline would be finished regardless of sanctions.
The German (and the Danish) side had already allowed Gazprom-owned North Stream 2 AG to continue construction in their territorial waters even when reputable insurance companies and the reputable construction-commissioning firms had abandoned the project due to the threat of US sanctions; and Berlin had made it clear to the US side that it would be completed regardless of any further sanctions. Sanctions on German firms could be circumvented by Berlin continuing to allow Russian firms to do any work that German firms were prevented from performing. And, sanctioning German firms, or NS2 AG, would cause outrage in every German political party except for the Greens, the only German party clearly opposed to the project. However, the Greens had made clear they did not think US sanctions on German firms was an appropriate measure for an ally to take.
As I point out, if Biden had sanctioned German firms and/or NS2 AG, and it did not work, the result would be the USA looking weak in another manner. One can say, however, that this would be the more honorable option – to fight full out even if one loses. However, there was another problem for the Biden administration.
Merkel’s government had made clear it was willing to essentially torpedo transatlantic allied relations if Biden did not relent and waive NS2 sanctions. As I explained in the interview:, Biden’s choices were to either accept that he was unable to now stop the pipeline, which was over 90% complete when he came into office and get whatever “deal” Merkel was willing to agree to, or have to go face Putin in a summit after a big blowup in US-German relations and without clear transatlantic unity and backing for US positions vis-a-vis Russia.
I explained that Merkel, by playing hardball to get NS2 completed with Putin, had put Biden in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.
It is increasingly clear that the US assessment was that if Biden refused to waive NS2 sanctions and to accept such a poor deal, the result would have been, according to the repeated explanations by US State Department spokesman in recent days, a disastrous setback for US-Europe relations, a “split” in US-German relations, “losing” the Germans in transatlantic alliance.
I said, whether this is a huge blunder for US policy is, honestly, not yet clear. However, this deal is a setback for US relations and image in especially Eastern and Central Europe, a region where the USA has been taking the lead in supporting the region’s eleven EU Member states and Ukraine to unite in building energy and transportation infrastructure to tie them together. The aim of the strongly US-backed “Three Seas Initiative” among these states is to enable the region to better resist the use of energy supplies by Moscow as a geopolitical weapon, and to resist being pulled into the Chinese “Belt and Road” project.
I explained that this deal contains nothing Germany, as an “ally” should not already have been willing to do, uh as to sanction any aggression by Russia against Ukraine, and to invest in infrastructure in the Eastern states of the EU and Ukraine.
I also explained, how Putin is currently, as a result of Europe’s heavy energy dependence on Russian gas imports, and his success in projects like Nord Stream 2, now better able to use gas as a geostrategic tool. For example, Gazprom is currently refusing to sell additional gas needed to fill the EU and Ukrainian storage for the coming winter season, putting them in a precarious situation in the event of any crisis caused by additional Russian aggression in Ukraine or elsewhere.
For further details, see especially my three most recent posts to GlobalBarrel.com at:
- My DW live: The US-German “Bad Deal” on Nord Stream 2 Pipeline July 22, 2021
- My TRT TV | Biden’s Nord Stream 2 sanction waiver: Merkel’s price for unity before his Putin summit June 12, 2021
- My EuroNews: Why didn’t Biden sanction Nord Steam 2 AG or German firms? The Biden-Putin Summit. Berlin-Moscow gas-alliance kills US climate partnership. May 20, 2021
- And the CGTN story on my interview is here: https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2021-07-22/Europe-responds-to-plans-to-finish-the-Nord-Stream-2-pipeline-126PsOTjtfi/index.html