Germany, Austria vs. US Senate: America and Europe on Collision Course

 

Germany and Austria have lashed out against US Senate for approving a legislation tightening sanctions on Russia. The bill has a provision that enables the United States to impose sanctions on European firms involved in financing Russian energy export pipelines to Europe. European companies could be fined for breaching US law. In a joint statement, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern accused the US of threatening European economic interests, describing it as an illegal attempt to boost US gas exports. The United States recently started shipping liquefied natural gas to Poland and has ambitions to cultivate other European customers.

The bill says the US government «should prioritize the export of United States energy resources in order to create American jobs, help United States allies and partners, and strengthen United States foreign policy». But the European foreign chiefs believe that «Europe’s energy supply is Europe’s business, not that of the United States of America». Gabriel and Kern said they «can’t accept» proposed US sanctions targeting European energy companies as part of measures against Russia.

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Europe’s Final Hope For Energy Independence From Russia

And this is one of the main reasons Russia went to war against Georgia in 2008. They did not want Europe to be energy independent.

 

Europe’s reluctance towards reliance upon Russian natural gas trade is no secret. It’s also no surprise, due to fallouts between Russia and Ukraine (a major transit country for the trade) in 2006, 2009 and 2014. Currently Russia and Ukraine do not even have a bilateral gas trade, but Russian gas is transported through Ukrainian pipelines to Europe, only to be resold to Ukraine by E.U. countries in “reverse-flow” deals. This doesn’t sound like a stable system, considering the reliance of Europe’s gas supply upon these Ukrainian pipelines (European supplies were cut by 30 percent in the 2009 Ukrainian crisis). Continue reading

China pivot fuels Eurasian century

A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass – at the expense of the United States.

And no wonder Washington is anxious. That alliance is already a done deal in a variety of ways: through the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Asian counterweight to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; inside the Group of 20; and via the 120-member-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Trade and commerce are just part of the future bargain. Synergies in the development of new military technologies beckon as well. After Russia’s Star Wars-style, ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense anti-missile system comes online in 2018, Beijing is sure to want a version of it. Meanwhile, Russia is about to sell dozens of state-of-the-art Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters to the Chinese as Beijing and Moscow move to seal an aviation-industrial partnership. Continue reading

Struggle for the Ukraine

BERLIN/KIEV/MOSCOW (Own report) – The struggle between Berlin and Brussels, on the one side, and Moscow, on the other, for the predominating influence in the Ukraine is growing sharper. Since the end of 2012, the German RWE company has been systematically expanding its natural gas deliveries to this East European country. Its objective is to break Kiev’s dependence on Russian natural gas, by reversing the flow in the pipelines already in place, to deliver large quantities of the gas from the West. However, these efforts – also being supported by the German EU Energy Commissioner, Günter Oettinger – are not advancing rapidly enough. According to reports, pro-western circles in the Ukraine are complaining that Slovakia – without whose pipelines, a breakthrough would hardly be possible – is opposing the project. Brussels, therefore, should exert pressure on that country, because time is running out. The Ukrainian government signed a memorandum last week, which is considered an important step toward its integration in the Russian-dominated EurAsian Economic Community, about to be established. In Berlin, Ukrainian participation in this community is perceived as incompatible with Kiev’s integration into EU structures. This conflict, which in principle, has been going on for twenty years, is being fueled by this new accentuation. Continue reading