This week Secretary of State Pompeo is visiting Central Europe to meet with the leaders of Austria, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia.
His agenda will include energy security and the reduction of Europe’s reliance on Russia to cover its natural gas demand.
In 2005, Gerhard Schröder, who was the Chancellor of Germany and leader of the Social Democratic Party, negotiated a deal with Putin to build Nord Stream, a pipeline to supply Russian gas directly to Germany. Shortly after leaving public office, Mr. Schröder was appointed as head of the shareholders committee of Nord Stream AG, the company in charge of the project. In 2016, he became the chairman of Nord Stream 2 AG, a new pipeline company that would double natural gas exports to Germany. The following year, he was appointed as chairman of Rosneft, Russia’s state-controlled oil company.
The fact that a former German Chancellor joins a foreign state-controlled energy company involved in his country’s business shows the level of influence that Russia exerts over German politicians.
The issue at stake is the geopolitical influence over Europe. In fact, the completion of Nord Stream 2 would make not only Germany, but most of Europe dependent on Russia for its energy demand, undermining the political freedom of European countries.
Because European pipelines are interconnected, Russian gas carried to Germany through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would be distributed to the rest of Europe, resulting in geopolitical consequences that affect American interests in the region. In fact, many European countries would be reliant on Russia, and their strong ties with the United States could be jeopardized.
In 2014, the European Commission laid out its Energy Security Strategy, supporting a policy of diversification of energy supplies. The objective of this policy is to prevent the dependence on one single supplier, by increasing LNG imports from different countries and developing additional pipelines to carry natural gas to the European Union.
However, the lack of implementation of the energy security policy by Europe induced the United States to directly intervene. The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 and the 2020 defense budget contain provisions that authorize the U.S. administration to freeze the assets and block the transactions of foreign entities that facilitate the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Before traveling to Europe, Secretary Pompeo threatened to impose sanctions on energy companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2, and recently three U.S. senators warned the operators of Mukran Port, which is located at the receiving end of the pipeline in Germany, that they will face sanctions if they provide logistic support to the pipeline.
During his trip to Central Europe, the secretary of state will gather support from U.S. allies, especially Poland and Slovenia, to oppose the construction of the controversial pipeline. Since the freedom of the European Union is at risk, the European Commission should intervene to block the project before the future of Europe will be compromised.
Francesco Stipo is the President of the Houston Energy Club, a member of the National Press Club in Washington D.C., a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, and recently joined the Bretton Woods Committee. Born in Italy in 1973, Dr. Stipo is a naturalized United States citizen. He holds a Ph.D. in International Law and a Master's Degree in Comparative Law from the University of Miami. Read Francesco Stipo's Reports — More Here.
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