It’s time to checkmate Nord Stream II

We are approaching the final phase of the Nord Stream II gas pipeline (NS2). Launched in 2018, the pipeline aims to connect Ust Luga, Russia, in Greifswald, Germany. Today he has under hundred miles left to be completed.

Decisions made over the next few weeks will determine whether gas ever passes through NS2. It is time for the United States to finally put down the project, which is neither economically necessary nor geopolitically prudent, and which undermines transatlantic security.

In an initial call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Joe Biden expressed his desire to revitalize the transatlantic relationship. Germany is indeed a vitally important ally of the United States in Europe, and the decision to freeze a plan to withdraw nearly twelve thousand soldiers from German bases is the right one.

The Biden administration should not allow its desire for public courtesy with Germany, however. get him back on the pressure on European companies participating in the construction of NS2.

Last week, the State Department released a report commissioned by Congress identify companies that have broken US laws by helping to build NS2. But he no listed European companies for new sanctions. He only named Russian companies or those that have already left the project.

It’s worrying. State Secretary Antony Blinken would have “Hates targeting companies or individuals from countries like Germany, arguing that it is more important to find a diplomatic solution.”

However the administration is proceeding on NS2, some European countries will be unhappy. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, just the cold reality of what is in the national interest of the United States: ending NS2.

Most of Europe opposes NS2. On Monday, the Polish and Ukrainian foreign ministers drafted a joint editorial in politics calling on Biden to “use all means at his disposal to prevent the completion of the project”.

There is also significant opposition within countries whose governments support NS2, such as Austria, Germany and the Netherlands. While donors promote NS2 as a purely commercial project born out of economic necessity, the evidence for this point of view is tenuous at best. For example, in Germany, analysts recently said that the pipeline “is not essential to maintaining Germany’s energy security”, but that it “is destructive to the environment and commercially inefficient”.

NS2 would benefit Russia by stopping the flow of transit fees currently collected by Eastern European countries like Ukraine – money Kiev is using to defend itself in the ongoing Russian-backed war in the Donbass in Ukraine. The pipeline would also amplify Russia’s ability to use its European energy dominance as a political asset.

According to the Congressional Research Service report, Russia represented 45% of EU natural gas imports in 2019. If completed, NS2 and the oft-overshadowed Turk Stream pipeline, which will bring Russian gas to Turkey via a pipeline under the Black Sea, will further increase exports of Russian gas to Europe.

The fact that NS2 continues to attract support from some European countries, despite an exhaustive and growing list of Russian attacks (many carried out on European soil), indicates how gas deliveries are giving to Putin on the continent. .

Some have seen Trump administration’s staunch opposition to the pipeline and efforts to block its completion as an unnecessary exacerbation of bilateral relations with Germany since, according to thought, the pipeline would be completed anyway.

Yet the United States has so far been remarkably successful in stopping the development of NS2. Eighteen companies have abandoned NS2 due to pressure from US sanctions, and its future remains in limbo.

President Biden called Nord Stream II a “bad deal for Europe”. He is right. The United States should not now give up its opposition to NS2. Strong bipartisan opposition to Nord Stream II led in part to the inclusion of sanctions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2020. These sanctions were further expanded in the NDAA 2021 adopted in December.

Undeterred, supporters of NS2 eagerly come up with mechanisms to curb Russia and allay US concerns. For example, German officials are busy craft supposed buttresses such as “snapbacks” or resolutions to shut down NS2 if Russia engages in further reprehensible behavior. Yet these mechanisms are cumbersome, unproven, and indeed unlikely to be used once the pipeline is operational.

At a time when the United States is try to answer Russia’s brazen, expansive and hugely damaging cyber attacks on Solar Winds, to roll back NS2 would be a bewildering mistake.

In this geopolitical chess game, there can only be one winning outcome. For the United States, accepting the completion of NS2 would be a historical error. It’s time for checkmate.

Daniel Kochis is a senior political analyst specializing in European affairs at the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom of the Heritage Foundation.

Image: Reuters

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