Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
Behind the new anti-Russian sanctions of the US there are the interests of US oil and gas companies, which are trying to eliminate from the world market of energy supplies the resources not so much of Russian, but their European competitors.
It has been a long time since Germany and the European countries that joined it amicably condemned the US for the anti-Russian sanctions. Actually, this has not happened since the summer of 2014, when Berlin still tried to resist Obama’s policy on the extension of sanctions.
Now very few people remember it, but before July, 2014, Merkel made many efforts aimed at the minimization of sanctions to prevent their expansion to large companies and sectors of business. Her efforts ended with the “Boeing” tragedy in Donbass. Since then the German chancellor, obediently following the waterway of the anti-Russian policy of Obama, was a constant advocate of the sanctions that already brought many losses to German businesses.
During the entirety of this time representatives of business amicably appealed to the government, asking for the cancellation or weakening of restrictions on trade with Russia, provided economic calculations, pointed to the loss of jobs (according to some information, Germany lost 30,000 jobs dependent on trade with the Russian Federation). But the position of Berlin was unshakable. Moreover, Merkel constantly criticised representatives of East European countries and Italy making modest attempts to somehow weaken the sanctions or to stop the policy of their expansion.
But last week the American Senate crossed the line, having violated the unspoken agreement between Berlin and Washington about the American non-interference in questions of the supply of Russian gas to Europe, supersensitive for Germany. As a reminder, the US Senate with a vast majority of votes (97 against 2) adopted the bill “On sanctions and other measures against the Russian Federation” — in our times called a trade war.
I attentively read all of this extensive bill with the aim of finding the justification of the reasons for its recent acceptance, more than three years later from the date of the introduction of the sanctions regime by America. Well, indeed, if you now decided to expand sanctions, you have to attend to the explanation of that was the cause for these steps. For example, Russia began an open attack on Ukraine or some strong evidence of intervention of the Russian special service in the American elections (for which sanctions were already earlier imposed, even without the existence of such proof) is found. But nothing similar to this is present in the Senate bill. I.e. there are references to Ukraine, cyberattacks, Syria, influence of the Russian media in Europe and the even the partially forgotten conflict in South Ossetia. In addition, in the bill it is specified that Russia must stop undermining the authority of NATO — a structure that the US President called “outdated”. But the Senators didn’t explain what happened recently in all these directions that wasn’t considered earlier.
It is possible to assume safely that these sanctions are a tool of putting pressure not so much on Russia, but on Donald Trump. It is precisely in this way, proceeding from American internal political content, that it is also necessary to treat the reasons for the recent anti-Russian demarche of Senators. And the reaction of the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, trying to warn senators against taking steps that will interfere with the establishing of Russian-American dialogue, is more proof.
However, the American senators in their eagerness overdid it so much so that the anti-Russian sanctions turned into anti-German ones, because, among other things, if they are introduced German oil and gas companies participating in the Nord Stream-2 project will take a blow.
The coauthor of the bill, Senator from Idaho Mike Crapo, directly stated that sanctions will concern not only Russian, but also western companies that will “invest in or support construction projects for the export of Russian energy resources”. According to the newspaper The Guardian, Crapo at the last electoral campaigns (from 2012 to 2016) received more than 130,000 dollars from American energy firms.
Thus, it is possible to safely affirm that behind this extensive bill there are also the interests of US oil and gas companies trying to eliminate from the world market of energy supplies the resources not so much of Russian, but their European competitors. First of all, this concerns the companies Shell, Eni, OMV, Wintershall, etc. And the point here, as you understand, is not Ukraine or the conflict in Donbass. It’s not surprising that Europe, to put it mildly, didn’t show delight concerning the sanctions against itself. The unprecedented recent joint statement of the governments of Germany and Austria focused on the “new and very negative quality of European-American relations”.
“We can’t accept … the threat of illegal extraterritorial sanctions against the European companies that participate in the development of the European power supply,” it is said in the statement. Moreover, Berlin and Vienna dared to refer to the protectionist character of the illegal act of the US Senate directly: “The purpose of the bill is to protect American jobs in the gas and oil industry … This is about competitiveness of our energy industries and about thousands of jobs. For this reason we support the efforts of the US State Department on improving this bill”.
In addition, the joint statement of Germany and Austria says: “Interests of foreign policy shouldn’t be connected with economic interests at all”. It turns out that Germany, for the last three years, to achieve the preservation of the sanctions regime, actually recognized the fact that the interests of the “Ukrainian ally” can’t outweigh the interests of German big business.
And that’s why against this background the renewed efforts of Ukraine to have its say in the conflict are even more amusing. The head of “Naftogaz” Andrey Kobolev in an interview to the Wall Street Journal, obviously without having examined the position of Berlin and Vienna, urged the US to impose sanctions against the participants of Nord Stream-2. This will hardly please Merkel. If earlier at the highest political level in Ukraine in the form of the top of the top of “state wisdom” the phrase “a clever calf sucks from two cows” is used, now, judging by the reaction of “Naftogaz”, Kiev decided to bite both cows.
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