US President Donald Trump’s alienation of Denmark may have just thrown a major wrench into his administration’s own painstaking efforts to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, Die Welt contributor Daniel Wetzel writes.
According to Wetzel, Trump’s recent vilification of Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, along with his decision to cancel his upcoming state visit to Copenhagen, over the Kingdom’s refusal to consider selling Greenland to the United States, could come at a major cost.
Up to now, the journalist noted, Copenhagen stood alone in Western Europe in its effort to block the construction of the Russian pipeline to Germany via Denmark’s exclusive economic zone, “at the request of, or at least in the interests of, the United States.”
But Trump, Wetzel wrote, reacted to Denmark’s rejection of his Greenland bid “like a defiant child.”
“This could have all been dismissed as an entertaining diplomatic farce, if so much wasn’t on the line,” the journalist argued, given that Denmark’s effort to delay the approval of Nord Stream 2’s construction may prove important both to Kiev’s negotiations with Gazprom on ensuring that some Russian gas continues to be delivered to Europe through Ukraine’s pipelines, and to the US’s own efforts to ship its more expensive liquefied natural gas to the EU.
Up until this point, Wetzel noted, the Americans had barely any leverage to slow down the Nord Stream 2 project, while Denmark, on the other hand, has had more success in its delaying tactics. Now, Trump has threatened to throw it all away with his Greenland gambit.
“If Denmark were inclined to favour a foreign policy as infantile as Trump’s, the country would quickly return the favour and wave through Russia’s Nord Stream 2 building permit applications. Why should the Danes continue to hold their own for an ally like the US?” Wetzel asked.
Copenhagen has its own reasons to oppose Nord Stream 2 and probably won’t change its policy, but it won’t be thanks to Trump, but despite him, the journalist concluded.
Denmark Threatens to Delay Nord Stream 2
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the Nord Stream 2 project’s completion might be delayed by up to eight months and cost an additional $740 million due to Copenhagen’s delays in approving applications to lay the pipeline infrastructure through between 147 and 175 km of the country’s waters. In June, Nord Stream 2 AG withdrew its initial application to route the pipeline through Danish territorial waters south of the island of Bornholm, while the two other options would see the pipeline routed through Denmark’s exclusive economic zone.
Reuters estimates that the project’s pipelaying ships will reach Denmark’s exclusive economic zone in three to five months, and it remains unclear at this point when Copenhagen will grant its approval for construction.
Last month, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee moved forward with legislation threatening to impose sanctions on the Western European energy concerns involved in Nord Stream 2, prompting a German business association to accuse Washington of trying to “turn European energy policy into a plaything of the United States.”
Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture of Russia’s Gazprom, Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie and the Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell. When completed, it will double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream pipeline network, allowing a total of up to 110 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas to be transported to Western Europe via pipelines at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.