It became clear just how important it is to the US for Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project to fail two months ago when, as we described in "US Threatens Sanctions For European Firms Participating In Russian Gas Pipeline Project", the U.S. State Department warned European corporations that they will likely face penalties and sanctions if they participate in the construction of Russia's Nord Stream 2 on the grounds that "the project undermines energy security in Europe", when in reality Russia has for decades been a quasi-monopolist on European energy supplies and thus has unprecedented leverage over European politics, at least behind the scenes.
“As many people know, we oppose the Nord Stream 2 project, the US government does,” State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert said during a late March press briefing adding that "the Nord Stream 2 project would undermine Europe's overall energy security and stability. It would provide Russia [with] another tool to pressure European countries, especially countries such as Ukraine." And speaking of Ukraine, recall that in 2014, shortly after the US State Department facilitated the presidential coup in Ukraine, Joe Biden's son Hunter joined the board of directors of Burisma, Ukraine's largest oil and gas company. Surely that was merely a coincidence.
Nauert also said that Washington may introduce punitive measures against participants in the pipeline project - which could be implemented using a provision in the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
Fast forward to today, when the dreadfully named CAATSA act just made a repeat appearance; around the time Europe made it clear it would openly defy Trump's Iran sanctions, the WSJ reported that Trump told Merkel that if she wants to avoid a trans-Atlantic trade war, the price would be to pull the break on Nord Stream 2, according to German, U.S. and European sources.
The officials said Mr. Trump told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in April that Germany should drop support for Nord Stream 2, an offshore pipeline that would bring gas directly from Russia via the Baltic Sea. This would be in exchange for the U.S. starting talks with the European Union on a new trade deal.While it had long been suspected that Trump would push hard to dismantle Nord Stream 2 just so US nat gas exporters could grab a slice of the European market pie, the aggressive push comes as a surprise, and as the WSJ notes, "the White House pressure reflects its hard ball tactics on trade, moves that have contributed to rising tensions between Europe and the U.S. and raised fears in export-dependent Germany of a tit-for-tat on tariffs that could engulf its car industry."
Europe Continues To Slurp Russian Natural Gas
ICYMI: "No Russia-German pipeline plan without Ukraine role: Merkel"
Back on March 21 we intro'd "Germany’s Pivot From Russian Gas Will Be Costly":
This is what the Poles have been trying to tell the EU for at least the last half-decade.It seemed to be a major change in the Nord Stream 2 story but there wasn't much reaction....
Poland has an understanding of their neighbor to the east that Brussels (and even Berlin) seems to lack. As noted in the introduction to January's "Poland's Plan to Dominate Europe, Continued", the Poles built their LNG terminal knowing full well the cost of various sources:
Following the December series of posts* on Poland I had intended something on a gas pipeline or two or geopolitics or the Baltic-to-Black Sea (and Greece) Via Carpathia Highway or the new (security-at-a-cost) LNG terminal but....but...Bambi !!Some things you can't measure in zlotys alone....
(or rubles or euros or krone or...)
The Nord Stream 2 Natural Gas Pipeline Is A Game Changer For Gazprom