Oct 18, 2020
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“The question is when”: what is behind the words of the German Foreign Minister on the completion of the construction of Nord Stream 2

The Nord Stream 2 project will be completed, the question is when this will happen, said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. The politician noted that the FRG will independently determine its energy policy, despite criticism from the United States. Earlier, against the background of the incident with Alexei Navalny, the German minister admitted that one of the measures against Russia could be the suspension of the project. According to experts, the statements of the German Foreign Minister indicate that Berlin cannot abandon the Russian gas pipeline, even under the threat of US sanctions.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is confident that the Nord Stream 2 project will be completed.

“I proceed from the assumption that Nord Stream 2 will be completed. The question is when, ”the head of German diplomacy said in an interview with RND.

In response to journalists' remarks that both the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States oppose the completion of the Russian gas pipeline, Maas recalled that Washington, despite criticism of Berlin, buys energy from Russia itself.

“We make decisions about our energy policy and supply here in Europe. And we are not criticizing the United States for more than doubling its oil imports from Russia last year and is now the world's second-largest importer of Russian heavy oil. The United States exercises its right to an independent energy policy. We do the same, ”said Maas.

At the same time, the German Foreign Minister noted that relations between the German side and the Russian Federation remain difficult, in particular, because of the incident with Alexei Navalny.

“In the Navalny case, we quickly gave a clear European answer. With such a serious violation of international law, it was necessary ... Our attitude towards Russia remains complex. Therefore, in the future we will also have to give a European response to unacceptable actions on the part of Russia, ”RND quotes Maas.

Sanction poisoning

We will remind, in September, Heiko Maas, against the background of the situation with the poisoning of Alexei Navalny and his hospitalization in Germany, made a statement that the German authorities were considering various options for a reaction towards Moscow, including the suspension of the Nord Stream 2 project.

At the same time, the German foreign minister initially urged not to associate the poisoning of Navalny with the construction of the gas pipeline and pointed out the possible damage to the German economy in connection with the closure of the project in which German companies are employed.

  • Reuters
  • © Hannibal Hanschke

Recall that Alexei Navalny was hospitalized on August 20 in Omsk after he became ill on board the plane. The doctors of the hospital where Navalny was taken, based on the results of the examination, diagnosed a metabolic disorder, which led to a sharp change in blood sugar levels. It was not possible to establish its cause, but no poisons or toxic substances were found in Navalny's body.

At the request of the Navalny family, he was taken to Germany for treatment, where, accompanied by state security, he was taken to the Charite clinic. On September 2, German government spokesman Stefan Seibert, and then Chancellor Angela Merkel, citing German military doctors, said that Navalny had allegedly been poisoned with poison from the Novichok group.

Soon after the information about the alleged poisoning of Navalny was announced, some German and European politicians came up with a proposal to stop Nord Stream 2.

For example, Annelena Baerbock, the co-chair of the German Soyuz-90 / Green Party, made an appeal to immediately stop the implementation of the project. She stated that construction should be stopped even if penalties have to be paid. Baerbock even submitted a relevant resolution to the Bundestag, but the vote on it did not take place.

In turn, the European Parliament on September 17 adopted a resolution on Navalny, in which the deputies demanded to tighten sanctions against Russia and stop the construction of Nord Stream 2.

In turn, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in mid-September that supporters of rapprochement with Russia should not pin their hopes on this pipeline as a means by which it would be possible to establish a dialogue with Moscow.

"For those who demand closer relations with Russia, I will say this: the poisoning of Alexei Navalny with a chemical warfare agent is not an isolated case ... Russia's behavior remains the same, and no pipeline will change this," the newspaper Deutsche Welle quoted her as saying.

Economic necessity

However, not all European politicians agreed with the opinion of their colleagues about the need to wind down the project because of the situation with Navalny. Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that their country views Nord Stream 2 exclusively in an economic vein, and they do not intend to link the incident with Navalny to this commercial project.

Inside Germany, the head of the federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Manuela Schwezig, spoke out against the cancellation of the construction of the gas pipeline. The politician said that pressure on Nord Stream 2 comes from the United States, which is pursuing its own economic interests - to organize uncontested supplies of American shale gas to the EU.

Recall that Washington has consistently threatened to impose sanctions on the project participants, and after the incident with Alexei Navalny, it again reaffirmed its position that the construction of Nord Stream 2 should be stopped. Such statements were made by Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus.

Pompeo later said that America was working to create a coalition that would oppose the completion of the project, but did not disclose which countries would be included in it.

The United States is trying to monopolize the European energy landscape with liquefied natural gas and political means of unfair competition to squeeze Russia out of this market, political analyst Alexander Asafov said in an interview with RT.

“For Germany, Russian gas is not only household heating, but also industrial raw material for the largest chemical companies and concerns. American liquefied natural gas is more expensive and unsuitable for the German industry. In addition, Germany is the largest distributor of Russian gas, ”he recalled.

New statements by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas demonstrate Germany's desire to complete the construction of Nord Stream 2, which will ensure its economic independence, said Konstantin Voronov, head of the regional problems and conflicts section of the European Political Research Department of the IMEMO RAN.

  • Reuters
  • © Maxim Shemetov

“However, the FRG authorities are afraid of sanctions from the United States and international economic regulators, therefore they are pursuing a kind of dual policy, trying to play for time,” the expert explained.

At the same time, Germany shares politics and economic interests, since it understands that the Russian project Nord Stream 2 will allow it to freely develop its business and economy, which supports half of Europe, Voronov added.

“Germany cannot afford to play the role of a slave as, for example, Poland does, so it does not want to depend on energy from the United States,” the expert emphasized.

In turn, Alexander Asafov noted that the latest statement by the German Foreign Minister testifies to the fact that Berlin has no opportunity to abandon Nord Stream 2 even with serious pressure from the United States.

Nord Stream 2 and cooperation with Russia are important for Germany, regardless of whether it belongs to the general Western anti-Russian consensus. The German government takes the necessary actions in the political field, even the diplomatic one - for example, it joins the sanctions, but it is well aware that the business community and a significant part of the country's inhabitants will be seriously affected if Nord Stream 2 is not implemented, ”the expert concluded.

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