The political meaning of the struggle for “Nord stream-2”

Политический смысл борьбы за «Северный поток-2»

© Nord Stream 2/Axel Schmidt Around the “Nord stream-2” broken a lot of copies in the conflict involved up to a dozen States. While it is clear that, although his opponents have managed to delay the entry of the pipeline into operation almost two years (originally planned for end of 2018), the pipe will be completed.Why? Because the completion has become not only (and perhaps not so much) economic, how many political issue. In the current situation, if the pipeline will not be completed, “Gazprom” will lose the invested funds, but politically Russia will still win.
I will remind that fighters “the Russian gas monopoly in the European market” managed to block the construction of “South stream” (Bulgaria refused from construction of the pipeline on its territory, when construction on the Russian side has already reached the waters of the Black sea). As a result, all that was built, used in the project “Turkish stream”, which essentially duplicated the “South” and for accession as one of the branches the same in Bulgaria had to fight.

If the state adopts a political decision to spend artery bypass in some areas, then it can only stop the war (and they lost).

Since the war Russia cannot win (the only real “draw”, after which humanity or disappear, or return to the stone age), any project will be completed. It is only a matter of time and money. In the case of “Nord stream-2” partners “Gazprom” is the largest gas companies are leading EU countries (Italy, Germany, France, Austria). That is, if the United States will be able to block the scene, you will lose not only “Gazprom” (for which it would be unpleasant, but not critical), will lose the European gas (and taking into account the loss of investment and loss benefits some may just splurge). Accordingly, the block construction will lead to additional irritation of the European elite Americans (and Europe and so is already on the verge) and the emergence of the EU for more General problems with Russia that it is Moscow that can help to solve it. That is, the US will come to that, what tried to prevent the unification of Europe and Russia on anti-American basis.

From the point of view of the volume of sold gas abroad (consequently, unpaid taxes) Russia will not lose, because in December 2019 will be the commissioning of the gas pipeline “Power of Siberia” export capacity of 38 billion cubic m. Besides, at the moment in Russia operates 3 LNG production total capacity of 27.5 million tons of liquefied gas per year, the export of which last year amounted to 26 billion cubic meters In 2020 put into operation 2 LNG production total capacity of 20 million tons.
That’s about 20 billion cubic meters of potential exports. In 2022 it is expected the commissioning of the following LNG production capacity of 18 million tons. Not without some tension, but with the use of all available capacity (including LNG production) contractual obligations of Gazprom to the EU can be performed in case of refusal from the operation of the Ukrainian GTS in the conditions of nevidannogo into operation of the “Nord stream-2”. It must be borne in mind that in the case of critically unsolvable situation with the “Northern stream-2” in the present circumstances you can return to the project “South stream” (the infinite extension of the “Turkish stream” is possible but not advisable, as again it concentrates in the hands of a significant proportion of transit). Personally Gazprom the situation is not stretched, but with political support from the state will handle it.

Thus, in the short term (2-5 years) projects bypass the Ukrainian (and Polish) the territory of new gas pipelines (and new options for delivery of gas) will be completed. This project has a clear political nature. It eliminates the “cordon Sanitaire”, which the United States tried to separate Russia from Europe. By the mid 20-ies of the XXI century we will have to see in Eastern Europe a very different balance of power regarding the establishment of the EU-Russia new (direct, without intermediaries) of communication with each other. The role of Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic States is reduced to zero, and even return to the US Democrats to power in 2024 will not change this situation. They will have to seek Russia has other vulnerabilities, and this region back into a state of geopolitical marginality (in which he most of its history resides).

But we know that a variety of Western European supporters of the “Nord stream-2”, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, argue that the project is pure Economics, and about what politics can not be considered. They can not lie?

In principle, but in this case don’t lie. The question is, what angle of view you consider the problem. Merkel and the company rests on the fact that Russian pipeline gas to buy cheaper (costs less any other), and therefore, the construction of gas pipelines bypassing unreliable partners and unstable areas (and even connecting Germany and Russia directly, without the greedy transit) — a purely commercial transaction. And they are right. Wouldn’t be Russian gas is so beneficial for the Western economy, would not the EU in General and Germany in particular to enter into a political confrontation with the United States.
But note that even reasoning about purely economic issues, we came to politics because of US pressure is politically motivated, and thus the answer lies outside the economic sphere. Who would doubt that the US would be crushed not only the West European gas industry, but “Gazprom” did not receive powerful political support from their governments. Moreover, the problems of gas transit through Ukraine and Poland was originally inspired by the United States, not incidentally Kiev and Warsaw are in unison, even to the detriment of their own financial and economic interests.

You can, of course, to say that the interests are purely economic in nature — he wants to enter the European market with LNG. But first, the US is not able to close the entire volume of deliveries of “Gazprom” even more expensive gas (at best 30-40%), and secondly, after the commissioning of the Russian LNG companies in Russian LNG, which is by far cheaper than the American will still be the priority for European buyers. That is, in economic terms, the game has long lost its meaning. In addition, the use of political pressure to promote the market of uncompetitive product (like American LNG) clearly takes the issue to the political plane.

Finally, initially, the issue of supplies of Russian (and formerly Soviet) gas to the EU was disturbed by US exclusively as a political, at least outwardly, were purely economic in nature. Supply relatively cheap gas, first, increased competitive potential of the European economy relative to the U.S., and secondly, created conditions for development on the basis of economic and political cooperation of the EU with Russia (and previously USSR). For the United States exit the EU from the status of Junior partner and unconditionally subordinate ally was unacceptable as it undermined their global military-political hegemony, providing financial and economic interests of the American elite and political stability in the United States.

As you can see, in any case, we went back to the close interlacing of political and economic interests. No political action shall take place without economic justification — victory in the conflict must make a profit (though this does not always work out). However, in the process running political confrontation specific short-term economic benefits may be sacrificed strategic victory, which should pay for everything. So acted at the time, the British, who were willing, for decades to suffer losses for the sake of the military-political defeat of its economic rival (which defeat the winner compensated for all the losses and brought huge profit).

Thus, in the interest of absolute correctness should talk about the political and economic decisions, the implementation of which to the fore can leave the political, the economic problems and challenges. The winner is the one who correctly balance their political and economic interests, not hurting the economy for the sake of “pure politics”, but without falling into economic determinism, when short term profit is more important than gaining strategic advantages.Rostislav Ishchenko

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