Jerri-Lynn here. In the age of COVID-19, there are nonetheless perennial foreign policy issues that remain to preoccupy policymakers. And I for one need to be reminded of them, least I surrender completely to COVID craziness; I assume the same holds true for Naked Capitalism readers. I know from prior academic work I conducted decades ago on the Nixon administration’s trade policy, that Europe’s willingness – particularly what at that time was West Germany – to tie themselves to Russian oil supplies was a major U.S. concern.
So VP Mike Pompeo’s obsessions are by no means new or particularly contemporary, and are neither tied to the current New Cold War madness or Russiagate centred on Trump. I have yet to trace Pompeo’s fossil fuel connections, but the broader Trump administration has certainly served U.S. fossil fuel interests (as readers with memories recall was also the case with its predecessors. I think it’s almost a necessary condition to be a U.S. president.)
This time, what is now unified Germany will be the major receiver of Russian gas supplies that would flow through the new pipeline. The US is petrified that Germany may go rogue on this issue – as it has long been willing to use Russian energy supplies. You only need to troll through archives to see that – even during a period when many Germans had personal experience of Russian policies.
And this time, as the post explains, Germany has even offered to appease the US by offering to build two liquefied natural gas import terminals worth $1.2 billion if the U.S. ceases opposing the pipeline. So far Pompeo and the U.S. have yet to back down and the COVID-19 related cratering of oil demand and world energy prices means it unlikely that the current U.S. policy stance will change any time soon.
By Charles Kennedy, who writes for OilPrice and has covered this and many other issues. Originally published at OilPrice
The United States is building a coalition aimed at preventing the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will substantially increase the flow of Russian gas into Europe, the U.S. Secretary of State told German daily Bild in an interview.
“From the US point of view, Nord Stream 2 endangers Europe because it makes it dependent on Russian gas and endangers Ukraine – which in my opinion worries many Germans,” Pompeo said. “We hope Nord Stream 2 will not be completed and we are working on a coalition to prevent this from happening. We hope that the German government will also come to this assessment, be it because of what happened to Mr. Navalny or because of the security implications that dependence on Russian gas brings.”
The interview comes days after another report in German media said the German government had tried to appease Washington about Nord Stream by offering to build two liquefied natural gas import terminals worth $1.2 billion if the U.S. stopped opposing the pipeline.
Germany will be the receiver of most of the gas that will flow through the expanded Nord Stream pipeline amid an expected surge in demand for natural gas as it closes coal and nuclear power plants. The U.S., however, is against it, claiming it will only increase Russia’s influence in the energy supply of the EU, which would be unwise. Of course, there are also the U.S. gas interests as a major LNG exporter.
The alleged poisoning of Putin critic Alexey Navalny recently raised the temperature of the issue, with critics of the Nord Stream project calling for the German government to punish Moscow by withdrawing its support for the infrastructure.
On the other hand, a group of local primer minister from eastern German regions declared their support for Nord Stream 2, saying in a joint document that it was important for the energy future of both Germany and Europe and its completion would be “right and justified”.