Newsweek published an appeal signed by 118 parliamentarians, experts and former high-level officials from many countries, directing “all governments of the Atlantic community” to use all the tools at their disposal in order to prevent the completion of Nord Stream 2.
Known names between the two sites
Among the Polish public figures, this speech was signed by a large group of members of the European Parliament, representing mainly the ruling camp, including. Anna Futija, Kosma Zlotovsky, Zbigniew Koymyuk, Jacik Sariosz-Volsky, Witold and Waszkzykovsky. It should be noted, however, that among the signatories to this letter was also a large group of politicians from Ukraine – including the former head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pawy Klimkin, Andrei Parubig, former President of the Supreme Council or Ioana Kimbusz Syncadze, former Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine. Responsible for the European integration of her country with the European Union, but also representatives from Romania, Lithuania and Sweden and a wide range of American analysts and experts focused mainly on the Atlantic Council and the Jamestown Foundation. The authors of the letter convince the American public that the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline by Russia should be placed in the broader context of Moscow’s increasingly assertive policy, the most recent manifestations of which include the intensification of repression against dissent and a horrific poisoning attempt by Alexei Navalny. In this sense, they say, the gas pipeline has no economic or energy significance, but only geopolitical significance and therefore must be fought. They remember that the gas pipeline simultaneously serves to divide Europe into a relatively safe west, as well as an exhibition east of Moscow’s mercy, Ukraine in the foreground, and corrupt representatives of the elite in Western Europe by Russia. Moreover, the Nortstream II construction is a tool that the Kremlin uses to reward the friendly oligarchy with lucrative contracts, and thus its continuation should be seen as a factor strengthening the Russian power camp and Putin himself. The appeal also includes two important assumptions that were not previously clarified regarding the Atlantic community. The signatories propose steps to reduce Russian oil imports, and to demand restrictions on former representatives of the state elite in the West, so that they cannot work in Moscow’s political retirement. However, the most important feature of this discourse appears to be not to repeat the basic arguments in favor of blocking the project, although it may also be important for the American public to know them, but to place Nord Stream 2 in a geostrategic context. The rivalry between the collective West and authoritarian Russia.
The call to ban Nord Stream 2 was timed because, as former high-ranking US officials Daniel Fried and Brian O’Toole write, the Biden administration is working on the Atlantic Council today on its policy line toward the Russian gas pipeline. Washington’s concerns relate to the fact that in order to prevent completion of the gas pipeline it will have to resort to imposing sanctions on German companies, which would run counter to the vision of the new US Atlantic policy in which Germany plays. The role of a key ally. From this perspective, sanctions, which could cause anti-American sentiment in Germany, could weaken rather than strengthen Atlantic ties. It is important that Fried and O’Toole suggest that a solution to the problem of the future of Nord Stream 2 should be sought in the Pentagon – Germany – the United States – Poland – Ukraine, which may not only mean that our position is taken into account. Part of Europe, but also nears the prospects for a compromise.
A geostrategic problem, not an investment by private companies
An interesting solution was proposed in the pages of Der Spiegel on Saturday by Wolfgang Ischinger, former German ambassador to Washington and chair of the Munich Security Conference, who is a staunch supporter of the German-American alliance and strengthens transatlantic ties. In his view, Nord Stream 2 should also be viewed as a geostrategic problem, and not an investment by private companies. First of all, because this is how the German Allies view the project, meaning that its potential completion would be primarily political. In any case, in Ischinger’s view, this dimension, which consists of weakening Berlin’s ties with the capitals of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, is already clear, and therefore it is also in Germany’s interest to solve the problem in such a way that the positives outweigh the negatives. It will be difficult because, in his opinion, each of the available solutions means that Berlin will deal with losses, not only economic, but above all political. Therefore, you need to think about minimizing the negative consequences associated with Nord Stream 2 and do so wisely, because the mistakes made by today’s German elite could divide Germany and the United States, and negatively affect the prospects for the European Union project. Ischinger opposes Berlin’s continuation of its current Nord Stream 2 policy and simply ignores negative voices from outside and from Central Europe. He believes a bad solution, too, is to shut down the gas pipeline. Not because of the potential Russian compensation claims, although it will be very large, because 11 billion dollars have been spent on its construction so far, but the problem is the expected reaction from Moscow, which is definitely negative, even from the enemy. This may affect the situation in eastern Ukraine – which appears to be a bigger problem – the position of those European countries that wish to reduce tensions with Russia. If, of course, Germany is to lead in the vanguard of the European anti-Russian front, and ultimately block the Russian pipeline, it will have to face what it appears to be unprepared for, with a rupture in the Commonwealth. Only this time, France will be on the other side of the barrier.
Such an assessment of the situation prompts Ischinger to propose, and it appears that this proposal is directed at Washington, Warsaw, and Kiev, in order to seek a compromise together. In his opinion, it can consist of the following sequence of steps. First, Nord Stream 2 is finished, but that’s the second step, it’s not full of gas. The terms of its exploitation relate to Moscow’s policy towards both its opposition and Ukraine, but it cannot be excluded that Belarus, too, will be formulated by the European Union, which is understood as a community of states, which is clearly in agreement with Washington. Ischinger also suggests that the gas pipeline should be subject to European Union energy regulations, which the Russians do not want today.
From this perspective, it is Europe and America that will together decide, as part of their policy towards Russia, whether the political conditions for launching the gas pipeline are fulfilled. In other words, the “ball” will be on Russia’s side, and in Moscow it will have to make a decision, perhaps inappropriate from its point of view, about agreeing to the West’s terms. but that is not all. In order for Russia not to be able to use Nord Stream 2 as pressure on Ukraine in the future, agreements must be concluded, Ishinger suggested, that would reduce or even exclude Nord Stream 2 from operating automatically if Ukraine notices a decrease in supplies through the gas pipeline system that runs through Its territory. Finally, a special investment package, intended for Poland and Ukraine, must be built so that these countries can expand gas connections with the European gas pipeline system, warehouses and facilities to receive LNG, which will make the region’s economy immune to a possible dictation by Moscow.
There is no point in judging Wolfgang Eichinger’s suggestion. It is not the position of the German government, and local public opinion is divided over the issue of the gas pipeline. However, what is significant about his article is that he places the Nord Stream 2 issue in terms of a geostrategic option, which dramatically changes the context of the debate and believes that its future should also be discussed with Warsaw and Kiev. He realizes that as a result of the current policy, Berlin has lost much of its credibility. Germany will have to make a basic choice in the coming weeks, either with Russia or with the United States and Central and Eastern Europe. If they adopt similar theories in Washington, then the solution to the Nord Stream 2 problem will be possible.