Signaling its adherence to the “America First” strategy, the Trump administration is seeking to weaken European countries that pose a challenge to the US economy, Sputnik contributor Dmitry Lekukh writes, explaining why the US will try to bring an end to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.
After Donald Trump’s win, Washington has started viewing Europe not as a partner but as a competitor, Sputnik contributor Dmitry Lekukh writes, adding that the best way to pull the rug out from under the EU economy is to deprive it of cheap pipeline gas.
“From an economic point of view, the ‘old’ industrialized continental Europe is now seen more as a competitor rather than as a partner,” the journalist noted. “And in this situation, the issue of supplying Europe with US LNG was overshadowed by the need to deprive the economies of the subcontinent of any cheap energy resources. I underline, any — Russian, Algerian, Libyan, or Qatari [natural] gas.”
The US shale revolution had occurred before Trump assumed the presidency and its major imperative was to promote American LNG in Southeast Asian markets. US shale producers were not very much interested in the EU market, dominated by Russian, Norwegian and African pipeline gas.
The problem was that Qatar played the first fiddle in the Asian energy market, Lekukh noted. The solution was to redirect Qatari gas to competitive European markets, paving the way for American hydrocarbon supplies to Southeast Asia, he suggested.“There were some problems with logistics, for example, Syria,” he wrote. “We do not want to say that it was the concept of the Syrian gas corridor that was the main cause of the civil war in this Middle Eastern country, but it was undoubtedly one of its components. And, in fact, no one can conceal it.”
However, Russia’s involvement in Syrian affairs in 2015 nipped the plan in the bud, the journalist noted, adding that after Trump’s victory, the US has changed its strategy.
While Nord Stream 2 AG, the operator of the Nord Stream 2 project, has received the full set of permits from Germany for the construction of the pipeline, Washington is up in arms about the joint Russo-European initiative.
Earlier this month, 40 US senators wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signaling their strong opposition to the Nord Stream 2 project and urged the White House to prevent its construction.For its part, the UK announced that it will seek an alternative to Russian natural gas over the hype around the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, groundlessly blamed on Moscow. Previously, London initiated the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from Britain and called upon the US and other European states to show solidarity. As a result, more than 20 countries, including 18 EU member states, the US and Canada deported Russian envoys.
Meanwhile, Danish parties called upon the government to impose further sanctions against Russia and the Nord Stream 2 project over the Skripal case. Warsaw also raised the alarm about the poisoning of the former spook: Polish Secretary of State for European Affairs Konrad Szymanski said last week that Poland would try to convince Berlin to reconsider the pipeline project.
Denmark and Poland’s reaction is quite understandable: the two are pushing ahead with their own Baltic Pipe initiative. In June 2017, the two signed a memorandum on joint implementation of the gas pipeline project to supply European consumers with hydrocarbons at an affordable price and “significantly improve energy security.”
The potential disruption of the Nord Stream 2 project would have played into the hands of the US and simultaneously hit European economies.
“For Germany or Austria, it would be not just a gradual strangulation of their economies, but high gas prices for end users,” Lekukh remarked.
While Washington is interested in the weakening of its European economic competitors, Russia is by no means happy with this prospect, as it means the loss of a colossal market.On the other hand, Moscow sees no problems in promoting its own LNG supplies worldwide, the journalist stressed, referring to Russia’s Yamal LNG plant that started operating in 2017. The irony of the situation is that it was the US who received first ever shipments of Russia’s liquefied natural gas.
Meanwhile, Russia’s energy cooperation with China poses an economic challenge to European producers, Lekukh noted, referring to Gazprom’s Power of Siberia project which envisages the transfer of hydrocarbons from the Irkutsk and Yakutia gas production centers to Russia’s Far East and China. Russian natural gas is likely to further boost the development of the Chinese industrial sector.
Given all of the above, Europe has to make a choice between the viability of its economies and submissiveness to its Big American Brother, the journalist concluded.
The views and opinions expressed by the contributor do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.