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Sanctions, Security and the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

Binoy Kampmark

The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, construction of which is intended to transport 55 billion cubic metres of Russian gas to Germany per year under the Baltic Sea, is a ragbag of options and promises.  The fruit of a deal between Berlin and Moscow, it has troubled those within Russia, Germany, Europe and the United States, though for different reasons.

On the subject of environment, the ledger of negatives against the project are weighty.  Environmental organisations fear the ecological threat the pipeline poses to the Baltic Sea.  The Russian office of Greenpeace has claimed that Nord Stream 2 AG, owned by Public Joint Stock Company Gazprom, is an ecological misfit. It threatens the Kurgalsky nature reserve even as it promises transplanting various unique plant species affected by the gas pipeline. 

According to findings from the V. L. Komarov Botanical Institute, the picture is even uglier than a breach of promise: the plant varieties in question, listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation and the Red Book of the Leningrad region, were actually destroyed.

Bird life has also been affected, with confirmation that white-tailed eagles, which are also Red-listed, have fled their nesting sites in the reserve.  Nord Stream 2’s response has been one of comparing apples and bananas, an analytical approach doomed to inaccuracy. 

“Eagles are known for their resilience. Documentary evidence from the first Nord Stream project shows us that construction activities did not affect eagles’ behavioural patterns in Germany.”

The United States is less concerned with matters green.  Nord Stream 2 poses a security threat.

Trump’s former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, saw it as “undermining Europe’s overall energy security and stability.”

US energy secretary Rick Perry argues that “Russian gas has strings attached.”  The claim is that Germany will be come too reliant and Ukraine further weakened.  Ukraine had been the premier gatekeeper for Russian gas supply, with 40 percent of Europe’s total amount transiting through Ukrainian soil.  A slump in gross domestic product occasioned by an end to transit fees is considered imminent.

Other European states have been crankily concerned about the prospect of Gazprom’s deepening involvement in the continent’s energy market.  Poland’s anti-monopoly body UOKiK showed a measure of that opposition by fining France’s Engie Energy (ENGIE.PA) 40 million euros in proceedings against Gazprom. 

In February, EU ambassadors agreed that the project be subjected to greater scrutiny.  A Franco-German compromise was struck: Nord Stream 2 would be placed “under European control”.

The Trump administration’s actions against Gazprom and Russia’s energy influence, found in a provision of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), can hardly be seen as noble endeavours. 

The provision threatens sanctions and the freezing of assets against entities laying down the pipeline unless their activities cease “immediately”.  The United States has its own energy interests in Europe, and wishes to frustrate the effort. Market share is at stake.

The suspension of laying activities on the part of Allseas, a Swiss company, suggests that Trump’s announcement is already biting.

“In anticipation of the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA),” went a company statement, “Allseas has suspended its Nord Stream 2 pipelay activities.”  The company would “proceed, consistent with the legislation’s wind down provision and expect guidance comprising the necessary regulatory, technical and environmental clarifications from the relevant US authority.”

The angle taken by the European Union, Germany and Russia can hardly surprise.  Themes of energy security are reiterated. The Nord Stream 2 consortium makes the claim that, “Completing the project is essential for European supply security.”  Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova spikily condemned the sanctions measure.  “A state with a $22 trillion national debt prohibits creditworthy countries to develop the real sector of their economies!”

For a EU spokesman, this constituted “the imposition of sanctions against EU companies conducting legitimate business.”  A German government spokesman suggested that such actions “affect German and other European businesses, and we see the move as meddling in our internal affairs.”  Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has sees it as an infringement of sovereignty.  “It is up to the companies involved in the construction of the pipeline to take the next decisions.”

Nothing is quite so simple.  Gas pipeline politics has always been contentious.  One state’s sovereign promise is another’s weakening.  Concessions made to corporate monopolies are risky, capable of fostering insecurity as much as reassurance.  Those who control the tap control a country’s future.

But the imposition of any sanctions regime signals another bout of economic violence.  In the international market, where governments operate as ready gangsters for corporate interests, prompted by such motivations as seeking more natural resources, tools of state become handmaidens of economic self-interest.  And in all this, the prospect of ecological devastation remains genuine but an aside to the jabbering disagreement of political interests.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]

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Dungroanin
Dungroanin

Here’s a nice view of the topic
Gazprom shares are up 50% on the years low!

https://astutenews.com/2019/12/24/nordstream-sanctions-a-sad-coda-to-u-s-foreign-policy/

Probably still worth a punt! They could go stellar. I’m putting a grand in.

Robbobbobin
Robbobbobin

[Gazprom shares p]robably still worth a punt! They could go stellar. I’m putting a grand in.

I suspect that comment would score even more likes in the On-Guardian.

Franco DeCelis
Franco DeCelis

American politicians and capitalists are evil. Ex president Carter pointed out that in every year since independence, apart from sixteen years, America had been at war with one or more countries. Fr

MASTER OF UNIVE
MASTER OF UNIVE

America is a coward nation filled to the brim with real pathetic cowards & losers that think they are somehow superior beings because they are liars, thieves, & career criminals.

America is a gang of coward thugs that think gangsterism frightens us enough so that Americans can push us all around and take advantage of us all.

Americans are the world’s biggest losers & bullies.

MOU

Stomper of fuctards
Stomper of fuctards

Let’s grant that this is all true. It’s still the case that you – a “master” of nothing – are yourself a premier coward and loser who can contribute nothing beyond the tiresome go-to battlecry of many losers today: ” America and Americans are evil. This ability of mine to jump onto a bandwagon and denounce an entire group of people with no distinctions drawn among them makes me smarter than you. HURR HURR HURR.” Usually, when people reason like this, rape, murder and thuggery ensue.

Myall
Myall

Ever since his appointment, Richard Grenell, the White House’s ambassador to Germany has been labelled a ‘far-right colonial envoy’.
He’s truly and honestly living up to this reputation, and often, exceeding expectations!

Myall
Myall

Capitalism, we were told, is largely built on the ‘offer and demand’ theory. Little did we learn at school that capitalism also feautres an invisible hand, plus, a very visible hand called ‘Sanctions’ which is becoming a euphemism for ‘Economic Terrorism’.

Neil McCormick
Neil McCormick

And yet those in power would have us believe to boycott fine and confiscate assets of anyone who deals and trades with Russia is OK, but when we as individuals decide we’re not going to purchase anything that is exported from Israel we’re terrible anti-semites and they would take legal action against us including imprisonment.

richard le sarc
richard le sarc

You do realise that you just committed ‘antisemitic’ Thought Crime, don’t you?

MASTER OF UNIVE
MASTER OF UNIVE

Boycotting the Corporation of Israel export products & manufactured goods is completely acceptable manner of civil disobedience & protest participatory democracy. Boycotting business is acceptable whereas boycotting an identifiable minority ethnicity is not.

MOU

Robbobbobin
Robbobbobin

Boycotting business is acceptable whereas boycotting an identifiable minority ethnicity is not.

So Judaism is an ethnicity. How about the Turkics ex Germany, Poland and Russia, overlords of the Mizrahim and Palestinians in the neoCanaan? What is it with Jn Venn? Never works when you want him to.

MASTER OF UNIVE
MASTER OF UNIVE

You simply want to foment hatred towards an identifiable minority enclave. You have no interest in the corporate malfeasance.

MOU

Stomper of fuctards
Stomper of fuctards

If that boycotting is done for reasons of antisemitism, then it is antisemitism. If it’s done for reasons of solidarity with the Palestinians, or to protest colonial and apartheid policies of the Israeli state and society, then it isn’t. The problem is that some people seek to cast any criticism of Israel as antisemitism, while some antisemites and neo-Nazis seek to hide behind pro-Palestine and anti-colonial/apartheid criticsm of Israel to smuggle their own filth under the table and to pretend that no one engages in BDS for reasons of gutter antisemitism. Both extremes are engaging in intellectual terrorism and thuggery.

RobG

I feel like the Ghost of Christmas Past when I say that anyone interested should watch this…

Abby Martin & Lowkey: A Deeper Look at the UK Election

Try not to choke on your Turkey.

Grafter
Grafter

Get the Americans to fuck out of Europe.

Robyn
Robyn

And while they’re at it, take their bases from everywhere in the world.

harry law
harry law

Reporting from Berlin —
Germany, one of the world’s biggest consumers of coal, will shut down all 84 of its coal-fired power plants over the next 19 years to meet its international commitments in the fight against climate change, a government commission said Saturday.
https://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-germany-coal-power-20190126-story.html
Do Greenpeace want to keep these plants open?
At least Nord Stream 2 has galvanized the German vassals into growing a spine. What the US fears is Germany trading with Russia and coming closer together, the huge Russian land mass, and plentiful natural resources and German industry a potent force, the US would need another enemy. Who is going to feed the MIC and NATO without the imagined fear of the Russians crashing through the Fulda Gap and slitting all our throats as we lie in bed?

richard le sarc
richard le sarc

Greenpeace sold out decades ago. I wouldn’t cross the street to micturate on them if they were on fire.

MASTER OF UNIVE
MASTER OF UNIVE

Neuroscientists have deduced that all this ‘Merry Christmas’ shit translates into increased oxytocin neurotransmission which makes unwitting dupes buy shit because they are easily psychotropically & trophotropically induced to do so via simple neurological reflex much as Pavlov Classically Conditioned his now famous dogs with in the first historical experiment of Experimental Psychology as a discipline.

MOU

RobG

I agree, but I will still wish you a Merry Christmas (just to annoy you).

MASTER OF UNIVE
MASTER OF UNIVE

I’m a secular Grumpy Marxist but I’m also an Anglican. I was raised in the Dickens tradition whereby Scrooge does not recall being a human with a conscience until after midnight on the clock when the metaphysical spirits help him remember his past.

My Chartered Accountant father raised me to be a Dickensian Capitalist knowing that the wizards of the accounts were every bit as ruthless as old Scrooge & Marley. Something about Dickens _A Christmas Carol_ is mysteriously fascinating to me still to this day.

Christmas is all about the evils of 18th century industrial Capitalism in the UK for myself every year. Dickens is way cool for disliking Capitalists as much as he did. I dislike the corporatists the same way.

MOU

Jen
Jen

What would Dr Kampmark consider to be an ecologically cleaner alternative to Nordstream I and 2? The US proposal to supply LNG via an endless conga line of tankers across the North Atlantic would be an ecological nightmare, to say nothing of the specialised port facilities that need to be built to accommodate the tankers, the extra pipelines needed to pipe the gas to areas of Europe away from the Atlantic and the potential for accidents and disasters during annual hurricane season. Europe needs the best energy supply solution possible from a sustainability POV and other POVs and while Nordstream I and 2 may not be perfect, other solutions are either worse, more expensive or less certain and stable in the long term.

RobG

Shale gas is also poop. Only someone totally corrupt or totally insane would buy such junk from the USA.

The collapse of an empire brings up such interesting stuff.

I am of course a Russian troll for stating the obvious, so a merry Christmas from the Kremlin.

Let them nuclear bombers fly, baby.

Who wants another Christmas.

The majority of the present American government (including Trump) are evangelical Christians who believe in the Rapture. You wouldn’t put such people in charge of a car park, let alone put them in charge of the biggest nuclear weapons arsenal on the planet.

But that’s where we are at the moment.

The Presstitutes will never tell you any of this.

richard le sarc
richard le sarc

US fracking has never made a profit, it has blown up a pile of junk status debt, it has polluted waters and the land, and the tens of thousands of wells will leak methane for decades, possibly centuries. Capitalism at its best.

BigB
BigB

Fuck nordstream: merry christmas you old bastsards!

There’ll still be plenty to moan about in the New Year. Take a night off and enjoy yourself! 😀

RobG

I totally agree.

And a Merry Christmas to one and all!

harry law
harry law

You have been drinking BigB, you are slurring your words “bastsards”.
You could reply yes but in the morning I will be sober, but you will still be an ugly bastsard.

RobG

I find this a bit of a strange piece, for reasons that many others have pointed out here in the comments.

With regard to the environmental angle, I should perhaps point out that by far the biggest polluter on the planet is the US military.

MASTER OF UNIVE
MASTER OF UNIVE

The US Military pollutes everything under the sun far past Internet & the over 900 worldwide bases it occupies. Heck, the US MIC pollutes all sports venues with their propagandistic parades of adherence to state & flag military shows.

In the USA they make you stand in honour of the military at sports events.

I’m glad I don’t go down to the USA for the USA Grand National Drag Racing events just because of the MIC pollution at events. Their propaganda pollution is all over the Internet and that is toxic waste that we all have to sift through on our way to real news aside from institutional American killing of the third world.

GI-Joe turned out to be anything but a good hippie in my book.

MOU

ttshasta
ttshasta

The article mentions Rex Tillerson, yet fails to mention Qatar. Exxon Mobil & Exxon Mobil Qatar, that Tillerson worked for, want to run an LP pipeline from the Norths Pars gas field, the worlds largest, and Qatar owns 2/3 of,through Saudi Arabia, through Jordan, Syria, through Alleppo then through Turkey on to Europe. Thus Qatar, S.A. and Turkey have sponsored the foreign invasion of Syria that the the dolts at NPR to this day call a civil war. The US’s Al Udeid air base in Qatar is the largest in the region, Cheney has been to Qatar many times as have Barack and Michele Obama, John Ashcroft was paid $2.5 million to defend Qatar from post 911 terrorism charges.
Does it seem the article misses the elephant in the room? US Qatari investments must profit?
Never forget the Clintons, Qatar donates to Clinton Foundation, State Dpt. sells weapons to Qatar (diverted to Syria?), candidate Clinton to declare no fly zone over Syria as POTUS.
In 2016 Thierry Messan’s Voltairenet dot org translated an article from Petra the official Jordanian press paper that S.A. financed 20% of Clinton’s campaign, which is illegal under US law. Subsequently, and conveniently, Saudi Prince M.B.S. declared Petra had been hacked and the report was false. I rely on Thierry’s translations, and his voluminous site.
https://www.voltairenet.org/article193378.html

Jen
Jen

Excellent comment. As always, one should follow the money trail.

paul
paul

I’ve never understood the argument that buying Russian gas is a threat to the security of European countries. Russia doesn’t supply the gas out of altruism, it does so because it wants their money. They are dependent on Russian gas. Russia is dependent on their money. Mutual dependence, mutual gain.

During the Cold War, Russia always supplied every last gallon of oil and every cubic foot of gas that contracts obliged it to deliver. It did so, again because it wanted their money. Simple as that.

It would have been simpler and much cheaper to supply the gas through land pipelines via Ukraine, the Baltics and Poland. But the undersea pipelines had to be built because the Levantine dual nationals parachuted in by the State Department to rule over Ukraine and the Baltics on Washington’s behalf have shown themselves to be totally unreliable economic partners. Ukraine refused to pay for gas that was supplied and stole gas intended for European countries. The rabid Levantines in the Baltics and Poland were equally hostile. They could have made billions in transit fees, but they always insisted on cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Bulgaria blocked South Stream on Washington’s instructions and lost a reliable source of cheap gas and $400 million a year in transit fees. A lot of money and a lot of jobs for a poor country. US satellites pay a high price to kowtow to Uncle Sam. Russia developed its own port facilities in the Baltic and Riga is now a ghost town.

Uncle Sam is now waging economic warfare and imposing sanctions on its previously most loyal and obedient satellites, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Turkey.

Its surprising how history repeats itself. In the first decade of the nineteenth century, Napoleon achieved dominance over continental Europe. Only Britain stood against him. Napoleon tried to bring Britain to heel through economic warfare, the Continental System, ordering European countries not to trade with his sole remaining enemy. His orders were ignored all the way from Spain to Russia, and this lucrative trade continued. The invasion of Russia and the debacle at Moscow were an attempt to enforce the Continental System. In a similar fashion, Washington’s hubris and unbridled arrogance are now alienating even its most abject, cringing, servile satraps like Macron, Merkel, and Erdogan. With the same result.

MASTER OF UNIVE
MASTER OF UNIVE

Uncle Sam sees Nord-2 as an energy superpower challenge to energy supremacy which equates to American supremacy & hegemonic supremacy writ large across the world. If the pinko commie bastards in the Russian Federation make inroads by unilaterally making massive energy deals with the entire EU we will see American interests clamoring for market inroads & market share so that the pinko commie bastards in the Russian Federation don’t make a dime.

Uncle Sam is in actuality a waning ex-superpower thug that is yesterday’s man but can’t stand being taken out of the limelight being the narcissist nation it is.

MOU

john ward

So many sources one cannot trust…..Russian Greenpeace, NATO, the Merkel Bundesrepublik, the European Commission, the Texan oil business, the Saudis and the Pentagon…
How on Earth is anyone on Earth supposed to make an informed decision based on such a truth-strangulating tangle of hegemonic propaganda?
From The Slog archives:
https://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/analysis-the-factors-that-make-pompeo-russiaphobia-oil-pipelines-water-supply-and-brexit-inseparable/

pàul_m
pàul_m

Can you imagine being dependent on the usa for anything never mind fracked gas at twice the price.no doubt brave new worlder boris will go for it.gb inc looks over and done with.

Guy
Guy

“Can you imagine being dependent on the usa for anything”
Yes I can .I live in Canada and they basically own our country,for all intent and purposes .
They did not conquer us militarily but they so corporately.

MASTER OF UNIVE
MASTER OF UNIVE

Zackarova is bang on in that the USA is wholly incompetent to govern their own business interests let alone other sovereign interests. Nord-2 is necessary infrastructure that the USA wants to thwart for their own monetary benefit.

The USA is anachronism, insolvent, and lacks common sense as well as entrepreneurial spirit & business acumen.

MOU

padre
padre

How very concerned about environment we are, when somebody else is “destroying” it!

paul
paul

The US certainly showed how concerned it was about the environment with the North Dakota pipeline.

Francis Lee
Francis Lee

Stepping aside from the geopolitics for a moment. In terms of economics the US is attempting to push Russia out of natural gas markets. If a company did this it would be attempting to construct a monopoly and be subject to anti-competitive laws. If the US becomes the sole supplier in Europe then it has a stranglehold, both economic and political, on Europe. That’s the strategy, and it seems blatantly obvious. But the construction being put on this sordid little play by the Anglo-American MSM is that the US frackers – who never make a profit – are doing Europe a really big favour by enabling them not to become dependent on Russian gas. The Europeans should there for be grateful for US LNG since it will enable to diversify away from Russian gas.

The reality is, however, that once you become dependent on a single overseas crucial energy source you have been unceremoniously grabbed by the short and curlies.

Antonym
Antonym

Simply connect more European harbors to the existing gas pipeline network and choose the LNG supplier you want.
Not rocket science but Dutch PM Rutte was sold on abolishing natural gas because of CO2, while trees from North America for burning in power plants was fine.
Neighbour PM Merkel Germany wants gas but not nuclear (a scientist!). France wants nuclear but rely on a new unproven expensive design.
Political inmates are running the EU madhouse.

lundiel
lundiel

No one in their right mind should want nuclear.

Frank Speaker
Frank Speaker

Boron reactors rather than Uranium are much safer.
If we want an advanced society we cannot unfortunately Produce anywhere near enough renewable power. It’s not just my opinion, it’s based on fact as a professional in the environmental sector.

lundiel
lundiel

Sorry, my answer is above.

m181056
m181056

So Frank, how many Boron reactors can you tell me are out there?

richard le sarc
richard le sarc

‘In’ there, m-it’s all in the mind.

lundiel
lundiel

Hmmm. We’re not in the market for any, are we? No. We’d rather spend billions on Hinkley point C, pay over the odds for generated power and leave the waste to our descendants.

Peter
Peter

We had a well proven, CO2 cooled AGR, all ready to mass produce till Mrs T and Mr R put forward Sizewell B PWR, scrapped the AGR’s, Scrapped the Gas Turbine and coal degasification plant to run them.
Using coal to gas, Flexibility
Using AGR’s for bulk stable powe
Using Wind and solar as renewable sources
What was not to like? A fully integrated electrical supply system for the 21st cent?
What we have now are AGR’s coming to the end of their economic [safe] life
Coal burning electrical power stations all but closed down.
Gas powered electrical power station using imported gas [still a fossil fue]
Wind if the wind blows requiring [at least 80%] reserve electrical plan on standby, just in case.

Ditto in Europe plus the new generation of PWR’s are 100% over budget and about 3-4 years behind schedule.

lundiel
lundiel

Yes. I don’t have the knowledge you have, but it makes perfect sense to my understanding.

John Deehan
John Deehan

In this article, it misses the whole point of why the USA wants to impose sanctions, rather late in the day, on companies involved in its construction. Namely, the continued attempts by it to isolate The Russian Federation and its its long term strategy of preparations for war. Moreover, the omission of the reasons why Russia built the gas pipeline could not be more striking. The coup in the Ukraine made the transit of russian gas to western Europe via its territory open to pressure from the USA. Hence why the Russians built the pipeline in the first place. It’s the same reasons why the USA is attempting to prevent other Russian gas/oil pipelines in other parts of the world.