Can US catch up with Russian diplomacy in Europe?

I need hardly explain why oil and natural gas has played a very important strategic part in geopolitics over time.

by Victor Cherubim

With the 760-mile Natural Gas pipeline, Nord Stream an offshore pipeline owned and operated by Nord Stream AG whose majority shareholder is the Russian State Company, Gazprom and Nord Stream 2 owned and will be operated when complete by Nord Stream 2 AG, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gazprom, there is a battle looming between the United States and Europe.

The £7 billion pipeline running from Vyborg in Russia through the Baltic Sea to Greifswald in Germany, is almost 94 % complete.

Trump’s distraction 

Whilst the Trump Administration perhaps, “wasted” 4 years in making “America Great Again” with its biggest distraction in diplomacy in global affairs and particularly all things Europe, with its “Anti-European stance”, the Russians were cavorting with Angela Merkel of Germany to draw Europe closer to its Russian borders in every way, especially Europe’s dependence on natural gas. 

I need hardly explain why oil and natural gas has played a very important strategic part in geopolitics over time.

US has ample supplies of gas from shale drilling and fracking within its borders. Russia is anxious to promote trade with Germany and the EU. 

Competition by US and Russia for the lucrative European gas market was at the heart of this strategy.

With the pandemic, gas and oil prices have fallen nearly 75% over the last year and a surge of new supplies from US and others has swamped the European market.

Demand has fallen with the pandemic lockdowns, but pressures are there about future demand for gas in Europe.

The Russian strategy

Europe was supplied by natural gas through the current route of Ukraine. Russia wanted to deal directly with Germany and the pipeline was a way to ship substantial amounts of gas to the lucrative European market at competitive prices.

While President Trump could only threaten the suppliers of the pipeline with sanctions, on companies, the relationship between Washington and Moscow deteriorated, but the pipeline continued to be built. 

Now President Putin’s Representative Dimitry Peskov has warned US the development does not concern Washington. The project concerns the energy security of the European Continent especially with the turbulence caused by climate change. 

His comments came after new US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said, “the pipeline would enable Putin regime to further weaponise Russia’s energy resources to exert political pressure throughout Europe”.

We all know countries like Germany, France and the EU rely on Nord Stream 2 for their supplies of natural gas from Russia in the future. This pipeline when complete is expected to double the capacity of natural gas to Europe.

Dependency inevitably may undermine security. 

No one expects US to roll over for Moscow, any more than Angela Merkel of Germany. She even offered Trump £877 million to allow the building of this pipeline, which offer was not taken up. 

But the Russians are clever that with the Brits leaving the EU, the European market may stagnate within a decade. Who knows?

We also know Russia is turning its attention to faster growing Asian markets. It is also waiting in the wings for this year’s election in Germany with Angela Merkel exiting the scene after 16 years as Chancellor. 

What has no one envisaged? 

Power everywhere in the world resides in military might.

France has taken a swipe at Merkel over the development of a Joint Fighter Jet aircraft, costing Euro 100 billion. Replacement for France’s “Rafale” fighter aircraft and Germany’s and Spanish Euro Fighter from 2040, are now under consideration. 

A spokesman for President Macron is alleged to have confided, “it would be a lot easier for us French to work with Britain, because we share the same military culture”.

I have always maintained the affinity between the Brits and the French. Both Anglo Saxon “baguette” cannot be underestimated.” Besides, it is not only because my son studied French at Sorbonne?

All we know is that Michel Barnier is entering the French political scene, perhaps, to oppose Macron at next year’s Presidential election and in the wings is Marie Le Penn, who has always touted to leave the EU.

Who said we have problems in our little island? There are smaller, if not bigger issues, worrying bigger powers around the world?

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