km. It’s just one example out of many. On 24 July The District Court of Leipzig appointed an insolvency administrator for the local steel construction company IMO. The 120-year-old company employing 320 people, specialized in steel constructions and until recently also active in the Russian business, is bankrupt. The sanctions against Russia resulted in a loss of revenue and profit for the company which could not be compensated. Like IMO Leipzig, there will be an increasing number of European companies, if the new sanctions decided against Russia, approved by the US House of Representatives on July 25 with only 3 votes against, and on 27 July by the US Senate with only 2 votes against will actually become operative and be forced through. This time, a project that is important in many respects for Russia and the other European countries, the Baltic Sea gas pipeline North Stream II, leading directly from Russia to Germany will be affected. The decision of the House of Representatives and the Senate (= Congress) is intended to allow the US president to impose sanctions on all companies involved in Russian energy deliveries. Nord Stream II is explicitly mentioned.
The US policy was acting single-handed without consultation with the European partners. There is vigorous European criticism on the new sanctions decided by the US Congress. In June, when the plans for the new sanctions became known, even the German government stated, that such new sanctions would be “contrary to international law”. The German secretary of foreign affairs Sigmar Gabriel had added: “It cannot be that the sanctions are now being abused to displace Russian gas in order to be able to sell American gas.” In fact, the Americans insist that Europeans would buy expensive LPG from the US instead of gas from Russia. In an interview with the news magazine Focus on July 18, Gabriel had spoken out in favour of rescinding the sanctions against Russia step by step, much different from the US Congress decisions.
The European companies concerned have also piped up. In a guest contribution to the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (24.7.2017), the General Manager of the Austrian Energy Company OMV, which participates in the pipeline project, Rainer Seele, commented: “American gas (LNG) competes of course with Russian natural gas – there is no objection to this. But it has to be clear, and the federal secretary for foreign affairs Gabriel expresses it succinctly: Europe’s energy supply is still a European affair and not one of the United States [...]. America as well as Poland and the Baltic states in tow have no veto and blockade right against European-Russian gas relations, including pipelines.» Not only for OMV, but also for other companies involved in the pipeline project such as BASF, E.On, Wintershall and Shell, the implementation of the US Congress’s sanctions would mean billions of losses. Matthias Warnig, head of the Pipeline Development Company Nord Stream II, added in the German “Handelsblatt” (19.7.2017): “Should the sanctions actually come, it would have a blatant impact on the entire oil and gas supply. Concerned according to the current state are all pipelines that export oil or gas from Russia.”
Plain text are the statements of the former German under-secretary of state in the Defence Ministry, Willy Wimmer. He also recognises an economic war against Europe in the new sanctions of the US Congress. In an interview with the Russian news agency Sputnik (26.7.2017) he stated: “These sanctions issued by the US are obviously directed against its own President, which one wants to obstruct. But they are also directed against Europe, which one wants to strangle economically. For long he has been observing that “the United States is extending its own legislation to foreign territories. This is typical colonial behaviour.” and addressed to those responsible in the EU: “If the EU cannot make a decision now because it does not dare or for whatever reason, it loses every degree of confidence in the eyes of the European public and voters. This is not only about the EU’s economic survival, but also about political honour. It cannot be that we allow to be ruled by the arbitrariness of Washington. [...] We see in the whole area of relations with Washington that we are determined by a policy that at least reminds towards an economic war. […] If the European Union gets now week in its knees facing these sanctions, it will jeopardise its entire economic future.”
Last but not least, it must be pointed out that these new sanctions are a renewed declaration of war by the United States towards Russia (see interview with Willy Wimmer in the box). The debates in Congress are a bad example of the demagoguery and aggression the “bogeyman Russia” is communicated in the USA. The most cautiously phrased official reactions from Russia show that this is also perceived as such. The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the State Duma, Leonid Sluzki, declared on 26 July: “The extension of the restrictions undermines the possibility of reconstructing the Russian American relations and makes them difficult for the foreseeable future […]. The possibilities for opening the Gordian knot in the US-Russia dialogue are extremely low.” •
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