'Spineless Pawns:' Security Expert Criticizes EU and German Stances on US Nord Stream 2 Sanctions

© REUTERS / Stine Jacobsen Allseas' deep sea pipe laying ship Solitaire lays pipes for Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea September 13, 2019. Picture taken September 13, 2019
  Allseas' deep sea pipe laying ship Solitaire lays pipes for Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea September 13, 2019. Picture taken September 13, 2019 - Sputnik International
The German government seems to be unwilling and unable to impose counter-sanctions on the US in response to Washington's actions against the Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline.

In an interview with Sputnik, security expert Dr Siegfried Fischer explained why this was true, and what the US has learned from its past mistakes. Earlier, Left Party spokesman Oskar Lafontaine said that Germany "has never been sovereign."

The law, signed on Friday by US President Donald Trump with the inclusion of sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines (already completed – ed. note Sputnik) gave companies involved in construction work a 30-day deadline. However, the letter that both lobbyists for this law, Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson, had previously sent to the Swiss-based company Allseas Group SA, which owns the pipe laying vessels, implied commercial and financial threats to the company should the construction of the pipeline be continued.

“Our ships left the Baltic Sea on Saturday night and are now on their way to Mukran”, an Allseas representative confirmed on Monday in response to Sputnik's inquiry.

The construction of the gas pipeline has thus far been blocked. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, has not commented on this issue post factum. A few days earlier, Merkel had warned that in the long run, no counter-sanctions would follow if sanctions were imposed. Maas, in turn, called the external influence on the autonomous decisions “unacceptable”.

If Nord Stream 2 AG fails to find other vessels that could complete the construction work or quickly purchase these ships from Allseas possible, it may take a long time to resolve the situation, senior research fellow at the Institute for International Relations in Potsdam, Siegfried Fischer said.

Although the German government has condemned the interference in Berlin's internal affairs (whether “directly from Merkel or implicitly by Maas”), there will be no counter-sanctions on its part. First of all, there are quite a few “trans-Atlanticists” in Germany who have been opposed to this project from the very beginning and are now grateful to the US for its support. In this case, it doesn't matter whether it happens simply out of subservience to the Americans or out of fear that the new Eastern Europeans worshipping the US will weaken Germany's position.

For example, Peter Bayer, transatlantic coordinator for the German government, earlier told the German Press Agency DPA, when asked about the lack of counteractions by Berlin, that the reason is that US sanctions are directed not against Germany, but private companies.

"Only Bark and No Bite" / "Wasting Their Breath"

"Secondly, the German government cannot protect German companies, as the world economy is dominated by American economic and financial forces, and for many years now it has been acting completely “impotently” on the international political arena without using the economic power of the country," Fischer continued.

The same and to an even greater extent can be said of the EU, which is "economically weak, domestically dispersed, and, in foreign policy, acts as a spineless pawn."

The verbal condemnation of new US sanctions against an existing legal European enterprise, which can be equated to "interference in European sovereignty", was nothing more than 'talk' in the expert's opinion –neither Germany nor the EU has the real sovereignty to protect their interests from US attacks, Fischer stated. The chairman of the 'Linke' (Left Party) state parliamentary group in the state of Saarland, Oskar Lafontaine, who had previously published a comment entitled "Americans, go home!" (Amis, go home! – ed. note Sputnik), has a similar view.

According to the expert, it is also worth noting that Trump signed the so-called "National Defence Authorization Act", which includes sanctions as part of the "Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act" on the same day that an agreement was reached with the involvement of representatives of the EU and, in particular, Germany, to extend the transit of gas through the territory of Ukraine for the next five years.

To avoid repeating the mistake of the Reagan administration in 1981, when failed sanctions were imposed on the Soviet "Euro-Siberian gas pipeline", the Americans have now imposed sanctions not against states, but against defenceless private companies, primarily against the Swiss company Allseas, which could have completed the last kilometres of Nord Stream 2 within the next 30 days.

Furthermore, according to the expert, the law "deliberately does not specify any purely technical parameters, as is usually the case with such extraterritorial sanctions".

US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell earlier said that the US law is not directed against Europe, but in its favour, because many Europeans have asked the US government to help fight against this German-Russian project. "This means that these sanctions can be called anti-German and anti-Russian," Fischer said. The Polish and Baltic partners asked for these sanctions, as well as Ukraine – "the real allies of the USA in Europe, where France and Germany threaten to become too independent."

"In this way, lobbyists for the fracking industry, Cruz and Johnson, not only want to sell "their" LNG to Europe but also, along with all other apologists in the ranks of both the Republican and Democratic parties, prevent any partnership between Europe and Russia", the expert believes.

In his view, the motto "To keep Russia down" in the eyes of these strategists is closely linked to another one "To keep Europe small enough to be lead by America". Thus, Europe could never become an independent global player that can compete with America.

"These sanctions on Nord Stream 2 are an ideal combination of American energy policy and geopolitics, which demonstrates the hegemonic claim of the United States, directed against partners, and real or potential rivals," the expert concluded.
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