“German and Austrian socialists condemned the US Senate bill, which called for introducing sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and companies engaged in its construction. By defending the project, which legitimizes Russia’s dominant position in the region, minister Gabriel and chancellor Kern challenged European solidarity, which they so eagerly invoke,” writes Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Member of the European Parliament.
The joint statement by the German Foreign Ministry and Austrian Chancellor offers an astonishing experience to its readers. It seems Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) and Christian Kern (SPÖ) can’t see the forest for the trees. In the same breath they mention the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, which infringed on “principles of inviolable national borders,” and defend German and Austrian companies, which collaborate with the Kremlin-controlled gas tycoon Gazprom. They do not see that the expansion of Nord Stream is another stage of strengthening Russia’s domination in the region and constitutes a direct threat to Ukraine.
German and Austrian socialists repeat the same old – and false – arguments that the project is just a business venture, whereas everybody, including the European Commission, fully understands that the construction of Nord Stream 2 would not be economically viable if it was conducted in line with the EU law. The engagement of West-European companies in the project, led by the giant Russian state-owned monopoly, which is the same tool of the Kremlin’s policies just like special services or the military, should be met with widespread condemnation. Especially that the only goal of Nord Stream 2 is to decrease and then stop gas transit via Ukraine and then leave that state completely helpless in the face of Moscow’s energy blackmail.
The Senate resolution was bipartisan, it was supported by 97 senators from both sides of the aisle. It is a clear example, which shows that fears about US withdrawal from Europe were premature. Americans are actually increasing their engagement in our region – and both Berlin and Vienna should applaud it. It is the American army that guarantees the security of neutral Austria and Germany, which while a NATO ally, for years has not fulfilled its responsibilities when it comes to defence spending targets. Minister Gabriel and Chancellor Kern cannot not realize that the sanctions against entities engaged in Nord Stream 2 are not a tool of the US commercial policy, but a step that strengthens Ukraine’s independence, autonomy of Central and Eastern Europe and European Union’s energy security. At most, they can pretend that they don’t see it and act not in the interest of their own countries but huge energy concerns.