UPDATED 10:13 AM PT — Fri. Oct. 19, 2018
German and Russian officials recently met is Berlin to finalize the details on the ongoing pipeline Nord Stream 2. The sides appear to be excited as the pipeline is expected to bring down energy costs across Europe and replenish the bank accounts of Kremlin-aligned oligarchs battered by international sanctions.
“Gas supplies from Russia account for about 35-percent, that is it,” stated Pavel Zavalny, chairman of Yugra’s Energy Committee. “So, we can talk about the dominance in the energy market, but there is no question of any dependence.”
The meetings come as public hearings over the pipeline begin in Denmark, with some commentators saying Copenhagen could ultimately decide the fate of the project.
However, President Trump isn’t happy. He is saying Nord Stream 2 would increase the dependence of key NATO allies on Russia, which the Kremlin could use to advance its policy goals.
For their part, German lawmakers warned the U.S. against meddling with EU energy policies.
“Russia is a well-valued, reliable and stable partner, and I think it is a legitimate right of every country to decide who they sell their energy to,” stated Robby Schlund of the Gera-Greiz-Altenburger Disarmament Committee.
However, the U.S. Treasury Department said the pipeline could face sanctions as it’s a joint venture between Russia’s already blacklisted energy giant Gazprom and five EU-based companies.
European companies could face secondary U.S. sanctions as well, which could potentially bring Russia and the EU even closer.
Last month, the EU and Russia agreed to establish a special payments facility to continue their business with Iran, and some are saying a similar scheme could be established to bypass the possible sanctions against Nord Stream.
“Americans are coordinating their sanctions policies less and less with the Europeans — all this could weaken the dollar’s supremacy in the coming years, and boost the euros,” said Dr. Jorg Kramer, chief economist at Commerzbank.
The pipeline is expected to start operation early next year, delivering 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to the EU and billions of euros to the Kremlin elites.