Where Do the Interests of Germany, Russia and the US Meet?

Last week the US Senate with the votes, 97 for and 2 against confirmed the change to include sanctions against Russia in the bill that presupposes sanctions against Iran. It was expected that this week, the bill should be voted also by the US Congress House of Representatives, after which it should be confirmed by the US president. However, because of the disagreements on the issue between the Republicans and Democrats, the voting of the bill, will probably be postponed.

It is worth noting, that after the confirmation of the change in the bill by the US Senate, Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austria’s Federal Chancellor Christian Kern issued a joint statement, in which they criticized the decision of the US Senate noting that those sanctions contradict the economic interests of the EU and they will hinder the participation of European companies in the “Nord Stream 2″ gas pipeline project.

In case the US confirms the sanctions against the RF in the end, can it become a reason for another tension between the US and its European allies? 

The question is not that easy, as it may seem at first glance, as the interests of different players collide on the issue. First of all we should note that in contrast to the US Senate, the US President Donald Trump and his team posited against the sanctions. After the approval of the sanctions by the US Senate, the White House stated that they would work with the Republican congressmen in the House of Representatives, to ease the sanctions against the RF as much as possible. As the US State Secretary Rex Tillerson noted, the sanctions would have a negative impact on the US attempts to improve the relations with Russia. 

On the other hand, we should state that it seems there are also some disagreements in the positions of the separate EU states and the official Brussels on the “Nord Stream-2″ project. When, for example, Germany and Austria expressed their concerns about the US possible sanctions against Russia conditioning it by the negative impact it could have on the project “Nord Stream-2″, the official Brussels, particularly the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, stated that the construction of the project “Nord Stream-2″ contradicted the EU legislation. In the letter addressed to the European Commission, he noted that the project would not serve the EU interests and will leave Ukraine “at the mercy of Russia.” He called to review the terms of the project. To note such a stance from Germany and Austria is not occasional as those sanctions will hinder the work of German and Austrian companies, which have invested in the “Nord Stream-2″ project.

It should be noted that the project “Nord Stream-2″ will pass through the Baltic Sea taking gas from Russia directly to Germany thus bypassing Ukraine. Nine EU states – Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Romania, in their letter addressed to the head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, expressed their concern about the “Nord Stream-2″ project saying that it would increase the EU’s dependence on Russia, Financial Times reports.

What refers to the position of Trump’s administration on the project “Nord Stream-2″, it cannot be considered an absolute one as well. Germany and Austria that are interested in the project “Nord Stream-2″, blame the US for interfering the Europe’s internal affairs. According to the existing viewpoint, the US tries to hinder the export of the Russian gas to Europe, in order its European allies use the gas exported from the US instead.

However, one can come to the question: what is more preferable for Trump’s administration – the deterioration of the relations with Russia followed by the sanctions  against Russia or the profit get from the US gas exported to Europe. Judging from the foreign policy of Trump’s administration, demonstrated so far (they prefer concrete agreements reached with individual states, based on mutual interests), we cannot exclude that in the end RF, USA and the EU member states (Germany and Austria) interested in the project will reach an agreement on the project “Nord Stream-2″ based on mutual interests.

Liana Hovhannisyan