Bombshell report reveals how Ukrainian lobbyists pitted US against EU over new Russia-Germany Nord Stream 2 pipeline
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday how spin doctors working for Kiev-based Naftogaz and at least one representative of Ukraine’s National Security Council pressed for four years to influence White House officials to oppose the Nord Stream 2 project.
According to the newspaper, they relied on close relations with so-called “Russia-skeptics” in Congress, such as Texas Senator Ted Cruz, to propose a package of sanctions on European companies involved in laying the Baltic Sea pipeline.
After Washington warned it would target construction and shipping firms involved in the project, which are mainly based in Germany and Denmark, Naftogaz’s Vadim Glamazdin is said to have claimed that it would be “the final nail in the coffin.”“When these sanctions are finally voted and become law, there will be no practical way to build this pipeline,” he added.
On Saturday it was reported that construction would resume on Nord Stream 2 this week, after a number of companies pulled out of the project last year in response to US threats of legal action. The 764-mile (1,229km) underwater pipeline will be among the longest in the world, linking Siberia’s natural gas fields to the German port of Greifswald and more than 150 companies involved in its construction have been earmarked for punitive measures.
The partnership behind the project, which includes Russian state-owned Gazprom as well as UK, German and French energy firms, say it will “meet growing demands of consumers in Europe.” However, Ukrainian politicians are fearful that Kiev stands to lose the $3 billion it makes from transit fees it imposes on Russian gas flowing through the pipelines built by Moscow during the Soviet era. Nord Stream 2 would allow Russia to send supplies to the EU without paying the levy. Ukraine’s annual budget is around $40 billion, and this represents a significant source of income.Also on rt.com Construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to restart next month
That argument has undoubtedly found favor with President Donald Trump’s administration and senior members of his party who have said that it represents a “grave threat” to Europe’s “energy security, and American national security.” However, there has been widespread speculation that the US’ position is also influenced by a desire to sell vast quantities of American shale gas to the continent. According to Politico, a common refrain in Berlin is that “the Americans don’t care about Russia, they just want to sell us their fracking gas.”
The issue has become a bone of contention in relations between the US and Germany. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas rebuked Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the threat of “crushing legal sanctions” currently being considered by Congress on the German port of Murkan, where Russian vessels are supporting construction. In October, Maas said he “assumed” that the project would be completed regardless of Washington’s objections. “The question is, when,” he added.
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