The Nord Stream 2 saga received an interesting continuation, in the sense that American attempts to stop the commissioning of the Russian gas pipeline may lead not only to the fact that it will receive additional support from European politicians, but also to the fact that the European Union will be concerned about a systemic protection from US sanctions.
If we compare the damage to American interests from Nord Stream 2 and the damage in the event of the creation of an “anti-vandal” (anti-sanction) financial and economic system in the European Union itself, the Russian gas pipeline is practically irrelevant. And if Washington is deprived of the opportunity to put pressure on Brussels or European companies with sanctions on really important issues, then for American foreign policy it will be a catastrophe on a planetary scale.
Last week, the conflict between Washington – Brussels, and in fact – the State Department – European Commission, escalated due to the fact that the heads of American and European diplomacy exchanged threats and statements containing mutual harsh criticism.
Mike Pompeo decided to destroy the so-called Tillerson clause – a restriction on the imposition of sanctions against companies that promoted the construction of Nord Stream 2 before the adoption of the sanctions law. This “clause”, the appearance of which in the initial package of anti-Russian and “anti-Gazprom” sanctions is attributed to the then Secretary of State Tillerson, who understood that it was a very bad idea to “punish” large European oil and gas companies, was canceled ahead of Pompeo’s trip to the EU, which could be perceived as a gesture of intimidation. The head of the Department of State even turned to direct threats, demanding that all companies related to or related to the project “get out of it” or get sanctions that (based on American standards and historical experience) would involve the destruction of their American business, disconnection from the dollar system , confiscation of property and a travel ban for their directors. In addition to the fact that a huge number of European companies that are engaged in, for example, port services or insurance, may fall under the roller of American sanctions, it seems (and it is shared by some Western media) that the State Department is also hinting at the readiness to “punish” the leading Gazprom’s European partners, that is, Wintershall, OMV, Engie, Shell and Uniper.
On the one hand, such an escalation is a powerful step in terms of demonstrating the seriousness of Washington’s intentions in terms of blocking Nord Stream 2. On the other hand, it’s not very clear what can be achieved from the point of view of demonstrating anything but intentions: the money of Gazprom’s European partners has already been invested in the project, and the pipeline itself is being completed by the Russian company itself, which is now the sole shareholder of the company owning the gas pipeline …
Thus, even if foreign companies wanted to withdraw from the project, it simply cannot be done – the train has already left. It turns out that sanctions against European companies would be just revenge, absolutely meaningless from the point of view of blocking the gas pipeline. Of course, Washington can try to impose sanctions against the buyers of Russian gas in Europe, but this will create a whole series of technical problems and foreign policy risks.
It’s quite easy to build sales schemes for Gazprom’s gas in such a way that it’s not easy to determine the final buyers, thereby putting the United States before a choice: turn a blind eye to the ineffectiveness of sanctions or introduce “carpet” sanctions against all companies that are suspected of buying Russian gas. A scenario of further escalation of this kind is quite possible, but Washington is unlikely to like the consequences.
The EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, in a written statement condemned US methods of influence on the European Union:
“I am deeply concerned about the growing use of sanctions or the threat of sanctions by the United States against European companies and interests. We have witnessed this developing trend in the cases of Iran, Cuba, the International Criminal Court and, more recently, in the case of the Nord Stream 2 and Turkish flow “. <…> European policy should be determined here in Europe, and not by third countries. In cases where the goals of foreign and security policy (related to the European Union and the United States. – Author’s note) are common, very valuable is the coordination of targeted sanctions with partners. We have seen many positive examples of this and will continue to coordinate (sanctions. – Approx. Aut.) wherever we can. And where there are political differences, the European Union is always open for dialogue. But this (dialogue – Ed.) Cannot take place against the background of the threat of sanctions. “