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12:25, 14-го січня 2021 · Джерело: institutedd.org

The situation with the Nord Stream-2 pipeline construction has proved to be cautionary and instructive. It is known that history usually repeats itself, but it is also true that learning by others’ faults is more advantageous than learning from the ones of your own.

The Nord Stream-2 and the controversies surrounding its construction is an indicator of not only the Vespasian's “money doesn't stink” principle (pecunia non olet), but is also another testing of strength and quality of the Euro-Atlantic cooperation.

Will the United States and the European Union (primarily Germany) be able to play nice taking into account the previous mistakes, avoiding a sense of déjà vu and historical analogies connected with the events that happened in Europe more than eighty years ago: helplessness, aggressors and their appeasement, ignoring the obvious problem?

We recall that the Nord Stream-2 belongs to the Russian state monopolist Gazprom, and so does the gas, which is planned to be transported by this gas pipeline. It should also be reminded about the positions of the parties on this issue. Thus, Germany is interested in boosting the supplies of energy, so it will not only pump gas to East Germany which still lags behind the West Germany in economic terms, but will also be able to sell natural gas to the EU in the future. Germany and its politicians consider the Nord Stream 2 as an exclusively economic project pretending that it has nothing to do with the politics.

The Russian Federation has invested more than 10 billion euros in the construction of the pipeline, apparently pursuing several goals. One should not think that this whole story with the Nord Stream-2 was invented only for the purpose of bypassing Ukraine. Such intention does exist to a large extent, however, Russia was aimed at other goals too: to instrumentalize the divide-and-conquer principle (divide et impera ) among the EU countries and their North-American allies, as well as to increase the gas sales, which may become useless in the nearest future. And of course, we should not forget about the eternal principle of “sawing” on the Russian construction: the Rothenbergs-Timchenkos and those close to the cooperative “Ozero” are always ready to back the Kremlin up and build a gas pipeline (a spaceport, the Olympic village, stadiums, highways, etc.), proving that they have an intimate knowledge of what a the “drain, leakage, shrinkage and outage” (according to Ostap Vyshnia) of the budget funds is. The Nord Stream-2 project for Moscow is a geopolitical and geoeconomic project.

The USA do not accept such state of affairs, so in due time they used the instrument of sanctions to stop the construction. The future Biden administration is determined to keep on struggling against the project, seeing it (and for good reason) as the geopolitical threat to Eastern Europe presenting the risk for the whole Europe to be destabilized by Russia. We should bear in mind that the United States also have their own skin in the game: Washington is interested in the European energy market, American liquefied natural gas is ready to be transported to Europe in much larger quantities than now. Therefore, Americans should eliminate the unnecessary competition. Especially, the one which not only harms the economic interests of the United States, but also undermines the principles of cooperation between Europe and the United States. Washington clearly sees the EU institutions being “Schröderized”, when the former top officials from the EU member-states start working openly for the companies defending the interests of the Russian Federation the day after they have left the civil service. And it’s not just about Gerhard Schröder, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The subversive work of Russian money and intelligence in the EU is well known to the United States, so the projects like the Nord Stream 2 will still be a challenge to the US national security.

As the new President of the United States, Biden is expected to keep America’s attitude toward the pipeline, and even to diversify the sanction tools of Washington. However, the most important thing Biden can do is to recall history and draw conclusions from the mistakes of the past, to restore the constructive cooperation with Germany and the EU as a whole, and to resume the unity of Europe and America. There is no doubt that Biden will make every effort to convince Merkel (who is resigning as chancellor in 2021 and will certainly want to leave on a brighter note) prioritize the Euro-Atlantic cooperation over Russian money and gas. Trump, by definition, could not do that, but Biden is quite capable of doing so. It is possible to predict that the Nord Stream-2 project will be completed, but whether it will transport natural gas in the volumes it is designed for, or whether it will ever be transported is an intriguing question.

In this situation Ukraine should be as active as possible, because the full functioning of the Nord Stream-2 is extremely unfavorable for us. Washington seems more promising in terms of cooperation and search for a solution to this problem than Berlin. Ukraine must get the best out of the US’ attitude toward the Nord Stream-2. It has to fight for keeping gas being transported through Ukraine’s territory to the needed extent, and also make efforts to maintain the Euro-Atlantic cooperation on the one hand and weaken Russia’s influence in the EU on another hand.

Oleh Kozachuk
Doctor in Political Science Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University
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