“The Brussels Diary With Yana Toom”: America Is (Not) Against Nord Stream 2


Nord Stream 2 is a great example of how world politics works today. Last week, the US suddenly refused to impose sanctions on the pipeline operator, the Nord Stream 2 AG project company. That is, essentially, they gave up: Nord Stream 2 is inevitable, and they must put up with it.

At the same time, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken stressed: the Biden administration has been and will be against the gas pipeline, which deals a blow to the energy security of the EU, Ukraine and the eastern flank of NATO. Moreover, America immediately imposed sanctions against the four Russian companies and thirteen vessels involved in the project.

That is, the right words have been spoken, the signals have been given and even something has been done. That said, the Russians do not care about the sanctions one way or the other. Well, yes, the diplomats of Russia and the United States traded barbs, not for the first time.

But the bottom line is that the Nord Stream 2 AG company, which oversees the project, and its head Matthias Warnig have avoided sanctions. The reason is simple: the company is German, Warnig is a German citizen, and Germany is the EU leader.

The White House can fight the Kremlin as much as it wants, but when Ukraine, Crimea, Navalny and everything that Russia is blamed for in the West are on one side of the scales, and the interests of the EU are on the other one, Europe outweighs. Biden will not damage relations with Germany. If the price is Nord Stream 2, which really gives Russia leverage over Ukraine, and other trump cards, then so be it.

Germany also supports Ukraine. But Germany needs a lot of gas. It buys about 40% from Russia, a third from Norway and a little less from the Netherlands, which will stop production by 2030. Also, the Germans are planning to give up on atomic energy altogether, and then on coal energy, which is, in total, almost half of the country’s needs. The deficit will be made good for with the same gas. And it will most likely be Russian gas because American liquefied gas is too expensive.

The US also has other reasons to have no issue with Germany. For instance, they want the EU to be their ally in their fight with China. Germany is cautious here. China remains a “rival and partner” for Merkel’s party, but Nord Stream 2 could be part of the deal.

Also, we cannot rule out some kind of German-Russian-American agreement on Ukraine. After all, Moscow needs the pipeline as much as Berlin. Such being the case, something can be given up.

All this concerns us directly. First, the welfare of Germany and the EU is our welfare. Second, the perplexity of our politicians who have faced, in fact, betrayal by the United States is very illustrative. The head of our Foreign Ministry refused outright to comment on the rejection of sanctions, which supposedly means “let the United States comment on it.” The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament (Riigikogu) Marko Mihkelson emphasises the “double impression” of the US’s actions, and the fact that Ukraine is still mentioned in Blinken’s statement.

But in my opinion, there is no duality, as everything is perfectly clear. The Biden administration has made its choice, and it chose friendship with the EU. Europe is one of the three world leaders today, we are reckoned with, and this is logical.