Nord Stream 2: Dispute between the USA and Germany escalates

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Tugs pull the Russian pipe-laying ship “Fortuna” out of the port and onto the Baltic Sea: The dispute between Germany and the USA over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is getting worse. Image: keystone

Nord Stream 2 sanctions? Dispute between the USA and Germany escalates

The dispute between the federal government and the USA over the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline has stalled and is now threatening to escalate completely. US sanctions against Germany are likely.

Patrick Diekmann / t-online

The dispute between the federal government and the US administration under President Joe Biden over the almost completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline threatens to escalate completely. Germany rejects the USA’s call for construction to be halted, and according to information from “Spiegel”, the federal government also refuses to negotiate with the Americans on the controversial project.

The US government is not willing to compromise on the issue; according to “Spiegel” there is hardly any leeway for the US to forego sanctions. “The Germans have to understand how serious the issue is for us,” a Biden adviser told the news magazine. The US President is ready to discuss the sensitive issue with Chancellor Angela Merkel. But this makes no sense, “if in the end he only hears: no, no, no”.

Federal government disappointed with Biden

The federal government does not hold out the prospect of any concession on this national issue; Berliners are disappointed with the tough course taken by the Biden government. “We expected more from the restart of transatlantic relations,” said Peter Beyer, the federal government’s coordinator for transatlantic relations, the “Spiegel”.

Since Biden’s election victory in November, the federal government has been considering how to position itself on Nord Stream 2. Because the resistance against the unpopular predecessor Donald Trump was much easier. And the relief about the new US administration and its multilateral approach is so great that one does not want to burden the cooperation as much as possible.

“We will need gas for a transitional period”

But the Berlin coalition and most of the state governments stuck to their support for the billion-dollar and more than 95 percent completed project, which is to bring more Russian gas to Western Europe and in which several European companies are involved. Chancellor Angela Merkel, Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasized this again and again after Biden took office. The central argument is that security of supply for Germany as an industrial location must be secured if coal and nuclear power are phased out at the same time.

Angela Merkel is behind the “Nord Stream 2” project. Image: keystone

«For a transitional period we will need gas that is not produced in Germany. We have to guarantee the geopolitical interests of Ukraine and secure our energy supply through this private-sector project, “said North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister, CDU leader Armin Laschet, to Reuters.

His colleagues in the east, in Lower Saxony and also in Bavaria think the same way. Both Laschet and Maas also point out that the US itself buys crude oil in Russia – so Washington’s criticism is inconsistent anyway. In addition, one rejects the extra-territorial sanctions of the USA against a project in Europe for reasons of principle.

The search for a «face-saving» solution

Weeks ago in Berlin had already discussed what ways could be for a “face-saving” solution: First, one could seek further assurances to Ukraine that it would not change its status as a transit country for Russian gas to the west, even with Nord Stream 2 loses. However, it is pointed out that the EU and Germany have already negotiated a new gas contract between the country and Gazprom.

Environmental activists from “Fridays For Future” and “Endegebiet” demonstrated in January in front of the SPD headquarters in Berlin. Image: keystone

The chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, had also proposed a possible stop to deliveries from Russia in the event of a crisis. It is also conceivable that Germany could prove to be an exemplary transatlantic partner with more commitment in other areas. After all, the government has just announced that it intends to send a frigate to the Indo-Pacific in August that will also sail through the South China Sea. Berlin is also behind the EU sanctions against China because of the action against the Muslim Uyghur minority – although this triggered tensions in the German-Chinese relationship and led to counter-sanctions. Both are gestures towards Washington as well.

It is unlikely that the federal government could repeat the proposal made in 2020 to focus more on the expansion of LNG technology in order to also introduce American liquefied gas to appease Washington. In the democratically led new administration, unlike under Trump himself, there are considerable reservations about fracking gas, it is said in government circles.

Sources used:

  • Advance notification of the mirror
  • With material from the Reuters news agency
  • Own research
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Nord Stream Dispute USA Germany escalates

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