US vs. EU: old punishment and main hope

An example of unfair competition came from the European gas market. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded in an ultimatum that the European companies – members of the Turkish Stream and Nord Stream 2 – “get out of the project, otherwise they will face heavy sanctions.” And this despite the fact that the facilities are almost completed, and companies have already invested billions of euros and dollars in them. This is no longer a standard run over the economic interests of a potential adversary, but an attempt to wipe their feet on their closest long-term allies. What did the Allies say?

The new terrible punishment that the US is threatening to unleash on the participants of the Nord Stream 2 project and the second stage of the Turkish Stream is not entirely new. In the sense that it has long been frozen in the 232nd article of the Law on Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions.

The worse the situation inside the United States, the higher the likelihood that Trump will unleash a sanctions war before the presidential election. Secretary of State Pompeo recently issued an ultimatum. “Attempts to interfere with our democracy will face dire consequences,” he said.

Retroactive sanctions are a new word in the history of this tool, leaving no stone unturned on the key principle of investment protection. In relation to the participants of the Turkish Stream, a direct threat, according to experts, exists only for the joint venture of Gazprom and Serbiyagaz – the amount of capital investments is about one and a half billion euros. Sanctions against participants in Nord Stream 2 threaten 120 European companies. They are faced with the prospect of losing money because the Americans wanted to oust Russia from the European gas market.

Among the first to respond to the next batch of threats was the Eastern Committee of the German Economy, which unites German entrepreneurs doing business with Russia: “The threat of immediate US sanctions against European companies participating in the Nord Stream-2 project marks an incredibly low level of transatlantic relations: this is an unprecedented interference America’s European energy sovereignty will lead to supply shortages and therefore excessive prices. “

On the whole, Europe understands that replacing cheap Russian fuel with expensive liquefied gas from the United States will hit the well-being of European enterprises and households. It is not yet clear how Gazprom’s co-investors assess the risks, the energy companies OMV, Engie, Uniper, Wintershall and Shell, which have invested 950 million euros in Nord Stream 2, half of its cost, which no one will compensate if it leaves the project. Management of the companies has so far refrained from commenting.

But in the history of Nord Stream 2, there has already been a case when blackmail worked. Late last year, the United States issued a black mark to the Swiss firm Allseas, whose ships Soliter and Pioneering Spirit were laying the pipeline. The Americans threatened with asset seizure, account blocking and visa restrictions. The Swiss got scared and swam away.

It was then that the Russian pipelayer “Akademik Chersky” and the transport barge “Fortuna” appeared on the horizon, which are to complete the construction of 130 kilometers of the gas pipeline. Now they are in the German port of Mukran and can go to sea in early August. Denmark recently issued a technical permit to operate in its territorial waters for these two anchored positioning vessels. Barrels with chemical weapons were flooded in the Baltic Sea – there are no such underwater objects on the way of the gas pipeline.

But the United States will try to erect some obstacles in addition to extraterritorial sanctions. Soon Pompeo is going to Copenhagen. Clearly subversive, although this mission is difficult to accomplish. Last year, Denmark already created a lot of problems for Nord Stream, unnecessarily delaying permission to lay a pipe in its territorial waters.

In Germany, this caused great irritation. And Denmark, if it dares to repeat something like that, will put itself in radical opposition not only to Berlin, but through the efforts of Merkel, now Brussels.

The European response to Pompeo’s threats has clearly demonstrated an increase in the stakes in the conflict. Deciphering the latest statement by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas: US sanctions against European companies will call into question the unity of the West over sanctions against Russia.

“The European energy policy is carried out in Europe, not in Washington. We firmly reject extraterritorial sanctions. We believe it is wrong to impose sanctions against partners. We need a common transatlantic position on sanctions against Russia. Today’s decision of the American government further complicates these efforts,” I am sure Maas.

Germany still plays a key role in maintaining the EU sanctions policy. For six years in Berlin they thought that they were in the same ranks with the United States, and now Trump is opening a second front against them.