Turns in the Outcomes of Nord Stream-2 Test to the Baltic Region

The drama of poisoning the Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny that still continues can become although not ‘close‘ but an echo to the security of Baltic region, because the ruling class of Germany has to face evolut…

The drama of poisoning the Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny that still continues can become although not ‘close‘ but an echo to the security of Baltic region, because the ruling class of Germany has to face evolution of the attitude towards the project of the Russian concern – 1,230 kilometres long gas pipeline Nord Stream-2 that is being built streching through the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany in the context of the latest geopolitical realties.
On one hand, over 100 companies from 12 European states take part in laying the pipeline, the completeness of which is 95 percent; billions of Euros have been invested, thus a rather modest assumtion to associate poisoning of Aleksei Navalny with layingal/non-laying of the pipeline do not seem too realistic. On the other hand, opposition (first of all, of the Eastern and Central Europans, who are actively supported by the United States) to the pipeline got more intense for the reasons known to everyone. Berlin cannot simply ignore this. Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, who used to simply deny suspension of Nord Stream 2 in his interview to the TV channel on 11 September did not deny such a possibility any longer.   
During this interview on 5 September to Bild am Sonntag the Minister emphasized that the one who suggested Germany to leave the project Nord Steam 2 should think about its outcomes (probably it is a reminder to one hundred of companies that participate in the project, most of them are German companies).  
However, more people speak out against the project in Germany – the former Ambassador of Germany to Washington, Director of Munich Security Conference Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Committee of the Foreign Affairs of the Parliament (Bundestag) Norbert Röttgen stated that continuation of Nord Stream-2 means encouragement of the politics of Vladimir Putin. During the interview to the news agency on 12 September the Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen told that she was greeting a very open discussion on the issue of Nord Stream-2 that was taking place on the eve in Bundestag. She spoke out against it since the very beginnng (her argument was that Europe did not have to be dependent on Russian gas). The discussion was initiated by the smallest Bundestag faction ‘Union 90 / The Greens‘, however which was most fiersly against Moscow, the representative of which Agnieszka Brugger strongly critisized politics of both Germany and Russia and required not only to supend construction of the pipeline but also extend personal sanctions against certain Russian business oligarhs.
Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel still is stubburn and keeps repeating that the project is only economic, thus it cannot be abandoned. The news agency Bloomberg with reference to the sources in Bundestag named three main reasons on 5 September, as a result of which Berlin still sticks to the project – open pressure from the United States over the companies taking part in the project, the burden of compensations that would be born by the German government in case Nord Stream-s is suspended and – the project is supported by German industrialists.    
We have already written (in the text ‘Geopolitical Dances around G-7 Solidarity Are Dangerous for us, too’) about additional sanctions introduced by the US Senate in the Military budget structure of the USA on 1 July against Nord Stream-2 that were designated for the end of the pipeline that was confronting the West, which has been used by Moscow as a tool of violence to enhance dependence of Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic States from Russian natural gas. A group of Senators from the Republican and Democrat Parties became inititiators of sanctions that reached solidarity among American politicians at last in regard to this question – which happens quite seldom recently.
The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the questionnaires of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 30 July informed about personal decision of the President Donald Trump to impose the CAATSA act (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions against Nord Strem-2 (and partly against the project ‘Turkisk Stream‘). According to the data of the weekly The Wall Street Journal CAATSA enables to impose sanctions against natural persons, who have invested to the project over a million USD or who have provided technologies or other services. The President Donald Trump summarizing the situation on Twitter got suprised in a marketing point of view that Germany pays millions to Russia, however Americans have to protect them.    
In the same article we also wrote about Federal Governent of Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel that are in a complicated situation for a certain time and has to announce discreet statements such as the one that was published by on 29 June that Germany was getting ready for countermeasures in case the administration of President Donald Trump would implement his threats to finally stop Nord Stream-2. For instance, that Berlin would react if all EU toexpressed their clear posision in regards to sanctions of the USA and maybe even provide for countersanctions.    
In turn, Polish Antitrust Authority UOKiK on 3 August imposed a fine of 213 million zloty (57 million USD) to Gazprom – the highest that is provided for by legislation for its unwillingness to cooperate in the investigation related to Nord Stream-2. It is associated with funding of the construction of the pipeline and directed against the companies such as Gazprom, Engie, Uniper, OMV, Shell and Wintershall Dea. In 2015 they produced an application to UOKiK in regard to establishment of a joint venture for funding of the project; the regulator did not approve it by making its arguments that the latter would restrict competition. The companies cancelled their application; however, they established the venture. The dispute continues.     
An economic, commercial component in this case is undoubtable (the Chancellor Angela Merkel does not derogate from truth) – thanks to Nord Stream-2 Germany expects to become the centre of collection of natural gas that is called a hub in order to distribute Russian gas from its territory to all Europe. Poland has been fighting against these ambitions with the pipeline Baltic Pipe being layed, which shall be used for pumping Norwegian gas to Denmark and from Denmark – to Poland.   
Nevertheless, the political factor now has become mostly relevant (have been relevant by someone?) – whichever position you take, Berlin uses the gas pipeline to support both – independence of the EU from Russian gas and regime of Vladimir Putin.
On 28 July press services of Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Poland and Ukraine in common statement called Nord Stream-2 a threat to energy security of Europe on behlaf of the ‘Lublin Triangle‘ being estabished (Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine) after the meeting of Ministers Jacek Czaputowicz and  Dmytro Kuleba. The statement also indicated that states of the ‘Lublin Triangle‘ would resist implementation of the project, trying not to become the subject of the efficient blackmail of Moscow. Thus, the response of Europe to Nord Stream-2 exists, however it is regional so far.
Here I have mentioned the President Donald Trump‘s suprise in the marketing point of view on that Germany is payig billions to Russians, however Americans have to protect them. Thus, summarizing  all this, on 15 August the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Minister of Defence of Poland Mariusz Błaszczak signed an agreement on enhancement of military cooperation, according to which it is planned to deploy an additional thousand of US soldiers, thus their contingent in this country would grow to 5.6 thousand.     
Soldiers with military technology, same as some structures of American miliary authority will be transferred from Germany, where because of disputes on Nord Stream-2 topic the United States decided to reduce the most abundant contingent  by 12 thousuand soldiers on 29 July in Europe (now 34-35 thousand of soldiers are deployed there). As Chief of the Pentagon Mark Esper told in his interview to The Financial Times this would enable to stop Russia in the region of Centeral and Eastern Europe.   
It is odd that the Kremlin was the only that greeted it, however after the decion to transfer soldiers to Poland, Moscow came to its senses and from the lips of the Ambassador to Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov stated that deployment of the US military contingent in the territory of new NATO member states, would be a gross breach of the cooperation agreement of Russia and the Alliance. According to the agreement between NATO and Russia of 1997 the Alliace committed not to deploy significant number of forces on a regular basis in the countries of the Eastern Europe and Baltic States.  
The Pentagon told that transfer places of these 12 thousand soldiers (besides Poland) might be their motherland United States, Italy, Belgium and Baltic States. The Minister of Interior of Lithuania Raimundas Karoblis at the end of July informed about the plans of the United States to send a battalion of soldiers from Poland to Lithuania for more than a half-year rotation to the end of June of the next year. The Minister of Interior detalized the plans of the USA after the U.S. Secretary of defence announced that he saw it possible to send additional soldiers to the Baltic States by reducing the contingent in Germany.    
Does it mean everyhing is good for us, the Baltic nations?
Arūnas Spraunius

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