Why the US is opposed?
Opposition to the Nord Stream 2 is one of the very few issues on which both the Republicans and the Democrats have consensus. The Obama administration was also opposed to the Merkel’s supporting policies towards the construction of this pipeline. Both Trump and Biden are also calling for the cancellation of the construction agreement between Russia and Germany. Former US President Donald Trump suggested, with the support of the Congress members, that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would make Europe totally dependent on Russia in energy sector and when the pipeline is completed, Germany would become hostage in the Russian hands. This is crystal clear that the United States is interested in selling more gas to Europe. Americans describe it as the “freedom gas”. A group of US Senators from both the Republic and Democratic parties tabled a proposal in June 2020 to expand sanctions on companies that are engaged in the construction of Nord Stream 2. Such sanctions and restrictions were included in the Defense Act of 2021 and were enforced as of 2021. On one hand, the Biden administration is trying to repair already damaged relations between Washington and Brussels and on the other hand, it is seeking to adopt a strong position against Russia. And that’s why Biden will enforce the Congress sanctions.
Reasons behind the opposition of the United States with Nord Stream 2 are exactly resembling the reasons behind Russia’s intent on completing the pipeline. First, considering that the transfer of gas from Russia to Germany would give the former further leverage against the latter, it could increase Kremlin’s influence in Europe and would create problems for Europeans in case of the emergence of tension. Secondly, Europe’s dependency on Germany in the energy sector could provide Moscow with the opportunity to interfere in European developments especially through hybrid war. This new pipeline could also deprive Ukraine and Poland from remarkable petrodollars. Fourth, some believe that the completion of Nord Stream 2 pipeline could pose an intelligence threat to the West as the infrastructure and pipes used under the sea could be exploited for intelligence gathering in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea throughout the pipeline. NATO is presently using the Baltic Sea for its wargames and operation and it is the only waterway for the transfer of LNG from the US to Europe. Poland also believes that any deal with Moscow in this respect would mean cooperation with the intelligence agencies of Russia. Moreover, the United States is trying to increase its export of energy to Europe in the coming years. In addition, Washington believes that this pipeline would create discord and differences among European countries and would expose Ukraine and Central Europe to the Russian threats; And it is also in contradiction with the EU’s declared objectives in the energy sector. In fact, the United States of America and some European countries believe that the Nord Stream 2 is part of Russia’s political and economic measures to interfere in European affairs and weaken the transatlantic relations.
Why Nord Stream 2 is important for Germany?
Since the proposal of the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was offered in 2011, differences began to emerge between the United States and its European allies over this project. Proponents of Nord Stream 2 especially Germany consider Moscow as a reliable supplier of oil and gas while European and American critics believe this project would bring about security damages for Europe. This pipeline, when completed, would guarantee Germany’s need for gas supplies with a relatively low price amidst the reduction of energy production in Europe. Russia is trying to diversify its Europe export options. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has supported the construction of Nord Stream 2 within the framework of her policy of engagement with Russia and China in the foreign trade sector. Proponents of this pipeline believe that Russia is more dependent on the revenues of selling gas to Germany than Berlin’s demands for energy. Therefore when this pipeline is completed, Russia cannot act unconventionally otherwise it will face sanctions and punishments. In fact, Berlin believes that making Russia dependent on trade and commercial deals would result in the moderation of Russia’s policies and behavior towards Europe. On one hand, access to natural gas, which has less environmental impacts than coal, can help Germany transit more smoothly from nuclear energy. On the other, Berlin can remain safe from the repercussions of cutting the flow of energy in the case of increasing tension and conflict between Moscow and Kiev. In fact, the completion of the pipeline would allow this country to maintain its political power and leverage of influence in Europe especially after the Brexit. Here, the eight Eastern Europ states are also opposed to this pipeline because it increases their vulnerability against probable intimidation and blackmail by Russia in the energy sector. Italy believes that the transfer of gas from Russia through Germany instead of Ukraine would result in enhanced influence of Berlin in the European Union. Of course, Berlin was hoping that the Biden administration would adopt a softer stances however the United States believes that this project is a bad idea for Europe and the US.
The future of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project has turned into a heated topic and a controversial issue in transatlantic relations. It has in fact turned into a serious obstacle for the new beginning in transatlantic relations after the departure of Trump and arrival of Biden in the White House. Some believe that Nord Stream 2 is not urgent economically and geopolitically but it is a political project whose management is on Germany’s financial institutes and constitutes a geopolitical project for Russia in order to increase Europe’s dependency on its gas. Of course, opposition to Nord Stream 2 and the increase of sanctions could have some consequences. In fact, imposing sanctions on the German companies, politicians or authorities would cause hurdles for Berlin-Washington relations and terminate in more tension between Europe and the United States. A conservative approach inter alia is to wait for the upcoming German elections in 2021 because the Green Party of Germany is opposed to this project and its victory could signal the end of Nord Stream 2. It could be highlighted that opposition to the completion of this pipeline is related to the inclusive policies of the West to isolate Russia due to its intervention in Ukraine and Syria as well as waging hybrid wars. Of course, Germany is seeking to solicit the agreement of the United States to the completion of this pipeline and therefore has proposed a mechanism according to which, Russia would be unable to cause any disruption in Europe’s energy market. German diplomats say they have more confidence in their American counterparts as they know them from the Obama time and believe they can reach a moderate agreement.