Nord Stream 2: to be continued?
Joe Biden has announced that the US will not impose sanctions on the operator of Nord Stream 2 for the time being. He justified the decision pointing to overriding national interests such as maintaining good relations with Germany. The controversial new pipeline is set to begin transporting gas from Russia to Germany this summer. Observers say this is by no means the end of the issue.
It may be that the US wants to wait until autumn, speculates political scientist Linas Kojala on Delfi:
“That's when the parliamentary elections take place in the largest EU member state [Germany], which hold the promise of success for the Greens. The leaders of this party clearly say that they want to do their utmost to ensure that Nord Stream 2 does not go into operation - not only for geopolitical but also for environmental reasons. Since a new government without the Greens is highly unlikely, we can reasonably hope for a political turnaround. On the other hand, this argument can also be turned on its head. If the US is counting on an important change in German politics, why is it giving up now of all times?”
Washington wants to save its market share
The pro-Kremlin website Vzglyad hardly sees the US's about-face as politically motivated:
“Washington has almost no arguments left for stopping the project. The Russian invasion of Ukraine predicted by Kiev hawks has once again failed to take place. ... So the US now faces the task of saving face, rather than blocking the project. ... Washington is apparently prepared to accept a compromise on sharing the EU gas market with Russia and other suppliers. The maximum goal of ousting Russia from the EU market by blocking gas transit through loyal Ukraine was not achieved. Now the minimum goal is to secure a substantial part of this growing market.”
Ball is now in Berlin's court
Biden's decision could point the way out of the impasse German politicians have got themself into, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung hopes:
“This is a preparatory effort that fits in with his approach to repairing relations with the United States' allies - who, after all, he needs as partners in a coalition that challenges authoritarian regimes, and China in particular. So it's now up to the German government, which for years has stubbornly followed the interests of the involved companies and also adopted their arguments - presumably against its better judgement - to do its part so that a face-saving way out can be found.”
Time is ticking
Everything would change for Ukraine if the pipeline goes into operation, comments Vadym Glamazdin, former advisor of the state energy company Naftohas Ukrajiny, in Ukrayinska Pravda:
“In this new reality, gas is more expensive than anyone in the presidential administration can imagine today. In this new reality, the window is open for a direct invasion [by Russia], which no longer risks losing its revenues from gas sales. Russia will then hold many additional trump cards for its geopolitical game ... Is there any hope that this can be avoided? Yes. ... There is still a chance to get a grip on the situation and find a proper solution. But time is running out, and very quickly.”