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US sanctions: the first step to an all-out trade war on Europe

The US announces a set of far-reaching sanctions against European companies that are doing business with Russia. These sanctions forced American jurisdiction on Europe, and is an attack on the sovereignty of European countries. These sanctions will have consequences for European companies, citizens and politics because European countries import 25% of their, 30% of their oil and 35% of their gas from Russia. The announced measures are the beginning of a trade war, Germany’s Minister for Economic Affairs Brigitte Zyries warned. In the Gefira (subscriber’s version) we already warned that a trade war is broadly supported by the US establishment.
On July 26, 2017, the House of Representatives accepted the bill that imposes new sanctions on Russia. Earlier, on June 15 that same year, Senate almost unanimously passed the new act,1)USA: sankcje wobec Rosji uderzą w Nord Stream 2,TVP INFO 2017-07-26 2) Gas and oil interests split Europe and US in sanction policy, Raamop Rusland 2017-07-05 which forbids cooperation with Russia in the field of natural gas and crude oil extraction technologies and is thus aimed at not only Russian but also Western companies which cooperate with the former, and these include Gazprom, British-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, German Uniper, Austrian OMV, French Engie (dawne GDF Suez), German Wintershall, all of which participate in the Nord Stream 2 project and again Gazprom, Wintershall, Engie as well as German E.ON and Dutch Gasunie, which are engaged in the earlier Nord Stream. The same measures will threaten the Zohr gas field project in Egypt (where Rosnieft has 30%, Italian ENI 60% , and British BP 10% shares), the development of the Sakhalin liquefied gas plant (Gazprom and Schell), the Blue Stream trans-Black Sea gas pipeline project from Russia to Turkey (ENI and Gazpromu) and the project of building the LNG terminal in the Gulf of Finland (Gazprom and Shell), as well as the project of importing to the European Union the Shah Deniz natural gas field in Azerbaijan (Lukoil and BP).3)Bruksela obawia się, że amerykańskie sankcje uderzą w Nord Stream 2, 2017-07-25The stakes are high.

The bill envisages a measure of flexibility in regard to the cooperation with Russians as far as gas pipelines are concerned such as Nord Stream 2, which enables playing a game with Moscow, which may count on being rewarded if conforming to the West’s wishes, or else. The unanimity in Senate with which the bill was passed is proof enough that the sanctions imposed on Russia are not merely President Donald Trump’s idea: they are backed by the American elites.

The American move caused an uproar in Western Europe and Russia, since the steps taken by the United States thwart the interests of those countries and deprive them of their sovereignty. Russia threatens with retaliation and warns that the American move will “worsen the detente between the two countries and make it extremely difficult for Russia and the United States to cooperate in solving international problems, including combating terrorism”, as F. Klintsevich said.4)Moscow warns of „painful response” to US sanctions; EU ready to retaliate in „a matter of days”, ZeroHedge 2017-07-26.This is a declaration of a trade war.

East European countries – Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary – have a different stance in this respect. Germany is striving for a close cooperation with Russia. Despite the few wars that the two nations have waged against each other, they have also intermittently been reciprocally drawn like two magnets. Nord Stream 2 is a manifestation of the wish of the two countries to deepen their relationship, though both parties insist that it only is an economic project. Germany wants to have more Russian gas on its market, while withdrawing from dangerous atomic energy instead of which renewable energy and natural gas are to be used. Selling its resources, Russia will be able to purchase from Germany machinery, equipment and consumption goods. That’s what it is on the face of it, but is it all?

Thanks to the Nord Stream, which bypasses Ukraine and Poland, Russia will be able to bring pressure to bear on one of these countries by withholding gas supplies without having to interrupt the sale of the same to the West.

The West European elites say they themselves ought to control the fate of their countries. The anger expressed by the Germans is understandable: the United States is trying to divide the European continent by frustrating the Russo-German cooperation.

Yet, Germany itself is to blame in the same respect of weakening European unity. It was Berlin that without consultations with Poland, Slovakia or Hungary, strove for the construction of Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 and put forward the idea of a two-speed Europe, thus dividing the EU even earlier than the Americans did. Brussels politicians love talking about European solidarity, but when it comes to energy supply, they seem not to remember their own principles. So Poland, Slovakia and Hungary are objecting to the construction of the new gas pipeline since it threatens their safety: gas transit through Poland, Slovakia and Czechia forces the rest of the EU countries to negotiate the conditions of Russian gas supply jointly with the said countries.

Zbigniew Brzeziński called Eurasia a grand chessboard on which a fight is fought over world hegemony. Dutch political scientist Nikolas Spykan said that he who rules over Europe rules over the world.5)Karol Bobkowski: Chiny w grze o dominację na Eurazją, 2013-05-07 No wonder then that Europe is the battlefield for world dominance where Germany and Russia want to closely cooperate economically and militarily and compete with the United States whereas the United States is trying to thwart these attempts perceiving them as a threat to its own interests. That is precisely why the US administration is supporting central European countries.

References   [ + ]

1. USA: sankcje wobec Rosji uderzą w Nord Stream 2,TVP INFO 2017-07-26
2. Gas and oil interests split Europe and US in sanction policy, Raamop Rusland 2017-07-05
3. Bruksela obawia się, że amerykańskie sankcje uderzą w Nord Stream 2, 2017-07-25
4. Moscow warns of „painful response” to US sanctions; EU ready to retaliate in „a matter of days”, ZeroHedge 2017-07-26.
5. Karol Bobkowski: Chiny w grze o dominację na Eurazją, 2013-05-07