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The Real Colluder with Russia Isn't Trump - It's Germany

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Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, and Vladimir Putin have much to talk about at next week's G-20 conference. Among their topics will be pipeline politics, reported Forbes (US).

Germany postures itself as the conscience of Europe. Besieged by floods of refugees, Germany takes them in and scolds those who do not. Germany claims to guard European unity against the insidious forces of the nation-state. Germany ridicules the United States for electing a right-wing novice, a real estate developer, no less. It is Germany that stands in the way of Trump’s purported plans to weaken NATO and break apart the European Union. But Germany, the self-declared paragon of European values, finds itself fighting an isolated battle to give Putin’s rogue state its political objectives for the benefit of Germany, Inc.

Russia and Europe, with the United States on the sidelines, have engaged in pipeline warfare throughout Vladimir Putin’s tenure in the Kremlin. Europe’s leaders have understood that a unified Europe requires a unified and diversified energy market that operates according to common rules of conduct. Supporters of the European experiment, the most vocal being Germany, would be expected to oppose Russian attempts to dominate Europe’s natural gas market. Think again.

Germany is a vocal supporter of Nord Stream 2, a second pipeline proposed by Russia to be built under the Baltic Sea to deliver Russian natural gas to Germany. It will double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream 1 route, redirect gas away from Eastern and Central Europe, and eventually eliminate gas deliveries through Ukraine. Planned to begin operations in 2019, Nord Stream 2 casts a long shadow on the emerging LNG market, which should be the ultimate guarantor of European energy independence.

The Nord Stream 2 agreement, signed without consultation with EU partners and institutions, violates goals of EU energy policy, such as diversification, avoiding energy conflicts among member countries, ensuring that smaller EU countries have independent sources of supply, and promoting a common EU policy toward Russia and Ukraine.

While German media promote fantastic stories of a Trump-Russian nexus, it is oblivious to its own deep nexus with Russia that stretches across the political spectrum. Former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is a board member of Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned natural gas monopoly. The German government’s economics minister and foreign minister (both members of the German Grand Coalition) openly favor deeper business ties with Russia despite its illegal Crimean annexation, armed conflict in Ukraine, and clandestine cyberattacks throughout Europe. To these misdeeds, Germany’s powerful Putin Versteher (“Understanders”) says that politics should not stand in the way of business.

Russia is strapped for money, due to poor economic performance, a costly defense buildup, sanctions imposed on Crimea and East Ukraine, and the shooting down of MH17. The Nord Stream 2 project appeared to overcome its financing hurdle when five of Europe’s largest energy companies (the three biggest contributors being German and Austrian) agreed on April 24, 2017, to finance half of the $10.3 billion project, with Gazprom paying for the remaining half and retaining control of the project.

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Reporter: Denes Osvalt
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Category: Politics
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