Sunday 17th of January 2021

the smell of US gassy desperation...


USA wants to finally kill Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas project

The US will expand sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. The sanctions will now affect companies that provide services or funding to install equipment on board the vessels that take part in the project. Such a move may permanently halt the construction of the pipeline.

By Dmitry Sudakov

The news to expand the sanctions was reported on the website of the US Department of State. Similar restrictions are to be imposed on the participants of the Turkish Stream and other similar projects.

The Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline provides for the construction of two sections of the gas pipeline system with a total capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year from the coast of Russia to Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Originally, the construction of the pipeline system was supposed to be completed in 2019. However, the work on the project was suspended after US Congress passed a package of sanctions against the participants of the project.

The USA remains opposed to the project, claiming that it makes Europe overly dependent on Russian natural gas and increases political pressure on Ukraine, which transits natural gas further to Europe. Kiev and several countries of the European Union share the same position.


"Russia uses its energy export pipelines to create national and regional dependencies on Russian energy supplies, leveraging these dependencies to expand its political, economic, and military influence, weaken European security, and undermine U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. These pipelines also reduce European energy diversification, and hence weaken European energy security," the US State Department said in a statement.


Russia, Germany, Austria and a number of other countries, whose companies are involved in the construction, insist that this is nothing but a business project.

In late 2019, the United States imposed sanctions on Nord Stream-2, having demanded the companies involved in the construction should immediately stop their works on the project. Allseas, a Swiss company, pulled out of the project almost at once.

Representatives of Russia's natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, stated that they would be able to complete the construction of Nord Stream-2 independently. For the time being, one needs to finish the construction of the section that is 100 kilometres long. On October 17, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview with RND that the project would be completed.

Turkish Stream gas pipeline trouble

The Turkish Stream gas pipeline system (TurkStream) directly connects gas transportation systems of Turkey and Russia and ensures energy supplies to Turkey, South and Southeast Europe. The project will enable the supplies of up to 31.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas to the region every year.

The offshore section of the system consists of two parallel threads that run along the bottom of the Black Sea. The offshore pipeline section begins near the city of Anapa in Russia and in 930 km comes ashore, near the village of Kiyikoy. "From the receiving terminal in Kiyikoy, one of the two underground onshore pipelines connects to the existing Turkish gas network at Luleburgaz. The other pipeline continues to the Turkish-European border, where it ends," the website dedicated to the project says. 

Bulgaria implemented the capacities enabling it to receive natural gas from the TurkStream (the throughput capacity on the border with Turkey amounts to 19.9 billion cubic meters per year), but then a holdback occurred regarding the expansion of the pipeline to Serbia. Serbia has long reported the completion of the construction of 403 km of the linear part of the continuation of the Turkish Stream on its territory.

In 2020, all the trouble in the implementation of the contracts could be blamed for the pandemic. In 2019, however, the work could not begin due to disputes between contractors.

Almost a year ago, in December 2019, Russian President Putin expressed his harsh views about the construction of the project in Bulgaria. At a joint press conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Putin said: "Despite all the assurance and repeated requests to the Russian side to ensure the supply of our natural gas through Turkey to Bulgaria, we can see that the Bulgarian side, strange as it may seem, deliberately delays the implementation of the project on its territory."

Bulgaria, with the help of the United States, launched a hasty program to diversify its gas supplies. For the time being, Bulgaria receives 100 percent of its natural gas from Russia. Until the end of 2020, Bulgaria is to receive at least a half of those three billion cubic meters from other suppliers. In January 2020, Bulgarian officials stated that Sofia and Washington were developing cooperation in the field of liquefied natural gas (LNG). As much as 50 percent of natural gas consumption in Bulgaria is to be diversified by the end of 2020, Bulgaria's Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said. In particular, Sofia eyes natural gas from Azerbaijan via TANAP gas pipeline.


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meanwhile putin saves the day...

President Vladimir Putin has ordered the deployment of a Russian peacekeeping force between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The complete ceasefire came into effect on 10 November 2020 at midnight [1].

It is a heavy defeat for the Armenians of Artsakh and of Armenia itself, who pay the price for having misunderstood the 2018 coup.

Armenia - whose prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, rose to power thanks to a "color revolution" sponsored by speculator George Soros - has been supported verbally by almost all international actors, but never in practice.

The Pentagon was counting on the Turks to decimate the Armenians, so that the United States could then launch a war against Turkey.

President Putin approached his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, proposing this ceasefire agreement in order to prevent a genocide, and also to allow Turkey to ward off a war with Washington.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict claimed the lives of at least 1,300 people in the span of one month and a half.


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russia is in europe but not in the west...


by Alexander Rahr*

The Valdai Discussion Club has existed for seventeen years. International and Russian political scientists meet there to discuss the world situation. Vladimir Putin has attended all these meetings and has always answered the questions from interested participants. The results of the Valdai Discussion Club meetings are usually reported intensively, only the German media keep a dead silence about the meetings – they prevent the Valdai Discussion Club from being noticed by the public. They do this despite the fact that numerous renowned German experts are also involved in the work of the discussion club.

  This year the meeting of the Waldai Club took place on 21 and 22 October in Moscow under strict hygiene measures. The author was the only foreign participant who could come to Russia from Berlin with a special permit. For three days there were intensive discussions, topics were climate and environmental protection, the global economic crisis, questions of the future world order, aspects of the Asian security architecture and industrialisation 4.0; highly interesting were the lectures of two leading Russian virologists on the applied vaccines in Russia. It was quite astonishing to hear how Western politicians and the media are trying hard to denounce the success of the vaccination campaign in Russia. Russia itself wants to sell the vaccines worldwide, but is denigrated as an unpleasant competitor.

  On the second day of the conference, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin spoke about digitisation. He said that Russia would soon cease to be a mere exporter of raw materials and modernise its economy with the help of new information technologies. Successes were already visible to the naked eye. Mischustin assured the West that Russia was striving for economic cooperation.

  At the end of the Valdai event Putin discussed for three hours with the guests. His main statements were: 

Russia is part of Europe, but not part of the West. Russia repudiates Western attempts to change Russia from outside. 

Russia is not averse to entering into a military alliance with China. Moscow has nothing against further nuclear rearmament in China either. The West should disarm.

In the case of the poisoned Alexei Navalny, Berlin had behaved unfriendly towards Moscow. Russia was prepared to investigate, but demanded access to the poison samples taken from Navalny.

There had not been a collapse in prices on the oil and gas market, and Russian energy exports were functioning well. In addition, Russia is now the world’s largest cereal exporter. Western sanctions no longer mattered to the country. 

Putin recalled his speech at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, where he warned the West against a NATO enlargement. His ministers had considered his statements at that time as too confrontational. 

Putin contradicted Western analyses that he wanted to drive a wedge into transatlantic relations, but criticised Europe’s bondage to the USA, especially in the case of Nord Stream 2. Germany, Putin said, was not an advocate of Russian interests in the West. In 1990, Russia, in particular, had done more than the West to promote German reunification. Germany should therefore have taken a positive view of the Crimean people’s petition for a referendum on joining Russia.

  The author was able to hold numerous talks in Moscow. He is convinced that a return to normality in bilateral relations is not possible today. The West and Russia have been divided by the many conflicts. Even after the end of the Corona pandemic, Russia does not really want to open itself to the West. First, the West must treat Russia with greater respect. Most political scientists in Russia have not excluded a further dramatic deterioration of relations with the West. Western democracy has little chance in today’s Russia, they say, and the alternative to Putin was rather nationalism.

  The author was surprised how much the temporary break in contacts and connections during the Corona crisis had damaged bilateral relations. They cannot be repaired overnight. The main culprit for the break in relations is seen by those who spoke out as being the USA. They would keep the Germans, who actually did not want to start a dispute with Moscow, on a short leash.


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Source: of 26 October 2020. Reprint with kind permission.


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* Alexander Rahr is a German management consultant, Eastern European historian, political scientist and publicist. From 1977 to 1985 he was a member of the research project “Soviet Elite” of the Federal Institute for East European and International Studies (BIOst). From 1982 to 1994 he worked as an analyst for Radio Liberty and the Rand Corporation think tank. For eighteen years he worked for the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) and was programme director of the Berthold-Beitz-Centre of the German Council on Foreign Relations with a focus on Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Central Asia until he moved to the business world in May 2012. Rahr sat in the steering committee of the Petersburg Dialogue from 2004 to 2015. Since 2012 he has been project manager of the German-Russian Forum. There he is in charge of the Potsdam meetings and the working group Common Space Lisbon-Vladivostok. 2012–2015 he was Senior Advisor of the Wintershall Holding GmbH and advisor to the President of the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce Abroad AHK. He is a member of the Russian Valdai Discussion Club. Since 2014 he was deputy chairman, then member of the advisory board of the Association of Russian Business in Germany. Since 2015 he has been an advisor for EU affairs of Gazprom in Brussels.

no change on the gas...

Berlin will not change its position on the Nord Stream 2 project after the new US administration takes office, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said, adding that Europe’s sovereignty does not equal doing US bidding.

“We do not need to talk about European sovereignty if it means that, in the future, we will only do everything Washington wants,” Maas told Germany’s dpa news agency while commenting on the German government’s stance on the Russian gas pipeline project.

“The federal government will not change its position on Nord Stream 2.”

The pipeline has long been a point of contention between Berlin and Washington. Backed by Russia’s state-owned Gazprom, as well as by German, French and British energy companies, Nord Stream 2, if completed, would link Siberia’s gas fields with consumers in Western Europe.

The US has repeatedly sought to undermine its construction – mostly through sanctions targeting European companies involved in the project in particular – all while arguing it also undermines European sovereignty, by making Europe too dependent on Russian gas.

Europe sees the US actions as a pursuit of its own purely economic goal, which is to increase its own sales of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to its European partners. Germany has particularly been one of the staunchest defenders of the Nord Stream 2. However, earlier, Maas said he expected to resolve the issue through reaching a deal with the Biden administration.

He also admitted, though, that Berlin is perfectly aware that there is “hardly any difference in views between Democrats and Republicans” when it comes to the issue. His latest statement came just as Nord Stream 2, the company managing the construction, told dpa that a section of the pipeline in the German exclusive economic zone has been completed.


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