Mikhail Gonchar: “For the sake of European security, Nord Stream II should be neutralized, like a time bomb”

  • Mikhail Gonchar For the sake of European security Nord Stream II should be neutralized like a time bomb

Kyiv: The aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine in the Kerch Strait continues to be in the center of attention of Europeans, both at the level of politicians, diplomats, and among experts. Proposals to abandon the implementation of the recently launched project to lay the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline began to be heard more often.

(Read the Beginning of the interview - here)

In the first part of our thematic interview with the specialist on hybrid wars, an expert on national and energy security, President of the Center for Globalistics “Strategy 21], and the editor of Black Sea Security magazine Mikhail Gonchar, we discussed the general strategy of the Kremlin, where the creeping militarization of the regions complements its pivotal economic expansion, primarily in energy projects.

Mikhail Gonchar is convinced that the general security of the world, Europe, and finally, the national security of Ukraine will only be strengthened if the West shows unity not only in applying sanctions against the Russian Federation (as a true destroyer of the global and European security system) but also blocks a number of Kremlin energy projects that financially fuel this aggressive policy.

But only the cumulative efforts of the entire world community can really stop the same Nord Stream 2. The expert believes that our partners from the United States can persuade the Germans to abandon the project in collaboration with dissenting Europeans, naturally, by relying on the positions of sensible German politicians.

Actually, the final part of the correspondence of Front News International’s correspondent with Mikhail Gornchar was dedicated to the German factor.

-Mikhail Mikhailovich, it’s no secret that the main consumer of energy resources in Europe, is Germany. They are the most powerful economic country, and plays crucial role in the functioning of the European Union. They also played a not quite plausible acting role as the main customer for the Nord Stream 2 project, after the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine. Has the shreddering gone so far? Will our friends in Germany be able to do so to suspend the implementation of the latest joint energy projects with Russia? Do you hear the arguments of opponents of cooperation with Gazprom's monopolist on German soil?

“ It’s not to say that for us in Germany,“ everything is lost ”in connection with the start of the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project. For days, the co-chairman of the Soyuz-90 / Green Party, Annalena Berbock, recently in the newspaper Die Welt made a statement that in connection with another flagrant violation of international law regarding Ukraine in the Kerch Strait, the German government should for political reasons abandon the extremely controversial gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 And although the Greens are in opposition now, they are again quickly gaining popularity and have real chances to join the next government coalition.

It is significant that the two main contenders for the post of leader of the current leading political force of the German Democratic Republic of Germany, Christian Democrats, Annagret Krump-Karrenbauer and Friedrich Mertz, sharply criticized Nord Stream-2 after the Russian aggression against Ukraine in the Kerch Strait zone.

It is interesting to note that at the same time another conservative German newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, made the same appeal Her columnist Reinhard Fezer justified the need to stop the laying of the pipeline in the Baltic: “Russia is still dependent on Ukrainian transport routes when exporting its gas to Europe. And as long as this state persists, the Kremlin cannot afford too big “fireworks” in Ukraine. As soon as Nord Stream 2 is commissioned, this deterrent will disappear. ”

On the same day, I recall, the European Parliament Deputies discussed in Brussels, and the German candidate for the presidency of the European Commission Manfred Weber from the CSU conservative party called for reconsideration of participation in the project. And in Berlin, Kurt Volker, the special representative of the US Department of State for Ukraine, demanded its termination. The Minister of Defense of Estonia Jüri Luik also called for this. An interview with him was distributed by Reuters.

In turn, such well-known and reputable German experts like Andreas Umland and Susan Stewart also opposed Nord Stream II. In their opinion, Germany should think about whether to continue this project, which causes great harm to both the European Union, as it splits it.

-You mentioned here the discussion in the European Parliament, which took place at the beginning of last week, and according to their results, closer to the weekend, it became known that its Deputies prepared a proposal to abandon Nord Stream-2. Do you think that if this issue is put on the agenda of its next in-session meeting, will there be enough votes in support of this document?

-I think that's enough. In principle, the position of the Deputies of the EP does not change much. They were initially opposed to the construction of the Nord Stream. The European Deputies did not express support for these Gazprom projects in any way, and if this problem nevertheless got on the agenda, as a result of the output discussions there were texts of resolutions, where the European Parliament insists on the unacceptability of this project for the EU countries, based on fundamental points. Therefore, I have the hope that now the proposal to abandon the "More Stream-2" will be accepted.

It is another matter that the decision of the European Parliament for national governments is mainly of a recommendatory nature, and the executive branch of the same Germany can simply ignore it.

Sometimes I get the impression that the German authorities are more willing to leave the European Union than to abandon these “flows”. So it was not only with the first, but with the second Nord Stream. Therefore, the Russians are not too intrusive, but they are purposefully pushing Germany towards the construction of the North Stream-3.

-When I first came across information about this on the network, I had the impression that it is an irony and this is just a figure of speech. But it turns out that such plans by the Kremlin are quite serious. And where is it planned to lay the third branch of the pipeline?

-There it is planned to hold the second. This is not about a fundamentally new technological or logistical project, but about elementary plans to increase the volume of Russian gas sales in the West. It looks ridiculous - they just started building the second stream, but they are already dreaming about the third ...

However, Gazprom’s perseverance is also explained by the fact that Moscow as a whole is set to abandon the construction of gas pipelines being built on land, and also with the help of transit from other countries, and plans to move on to laying pipes by sea routes. Including the prospect of a possible abandonment of the Yamal-Europe branch, which was the first route that bypasses Ukrainian transit and went through Belarus and Poland to Germany, in perspective. Moreover, in case of successful implementation of all these flows, Gazprom will in many respects be highly profitable for itself, because it has control positions.

-I imagine what prospects it opens up for the corruption component, given the current practice of merging government and business in Russia, there is a monopoly advantage and in the absence of minimal control from traditional transit countries ... And what other reasons are there for Moscow to intensify carbohydrate promotion to Europe by the sea?

“With such a scenario development, the Kremlin is set to de facto turn the Baltic Sea into its own internal lake, which it almost managed to accomplish with the Black Sea. After all, the very fact of the emergence of such a large-scale energy infrastructure would be a very convenient excuse for increasing its military presence in the region.

They say that our fleet here (and aviation on approach) is solely to resist potentially unfriendly actions with respect to critical infrastructure, behind which are Russia's economic interests. But not only her, but now Germany too. And here we have the frank fault line of Germany and other EU and NATO countries.

And here it should be recalled that Berlin in various conflict situations in Europe and in the world, as a rule, is used to calling everyone for flexibility, but in this particular example, he himself is not ready for flexibility and is not trying to identify with those countries that are much more skeptical in relation to the prospects of energy cooperation with Russia.

-And tell me, can the American president put pressure on Europeans, above all Germans, to refuse to participate in the further strengthening of the energy monopoly  of Moscow in Europe, and specifically whether it can contribute to blocking (or freezing) the implementation of the Nord Stream-2 project, not to mention "SP-3"?

“As we can see, Trump cannot be an excessive factor of pressure on Europe. ” Another thing is that his role may be prompted by the decision of the congress, where soon (perhaps even before the end of this year) they will again consider the issue of strengthening sanctions against Russia and here mention of its flows, against the background of what it is doing (The Case of Scripals, situation around Azov) - are not to be avoided.

More and more clearly in the world they begin to realize that the existing sanctions regime cannot stop Russia, it will move further, in its inherent expansion of hybrid forms. Therefore, you need to beat her pain points. And they are known to all. This is only in Berlin, Paris and Brussels where they  pretend to be unaware of it.

This is not only the possibility of disconnecting the Russian Federation from the SWIFT system and most importantly, a possible blockage of the “Northern” and “Turkish” flows. Taking into account the fact that the main item of the Russian budget is formed from the sale of oil, one can eventually introduce the practice of quoting its exports from Russia ...

-By the way, literally today, a high-ranking representative of the US State Department made a statement that the European Union should refuse to participate in the construction of Nord Stream-2 because of a situation that occurred recently in the Kerch Strait. He also noted that the creation of a gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine would slow down the containment of Russian aggression, adding that the States had repeatedly discussed the issue of building a gas route with Germany, and after the events in the Kerch Strait, this topic is gaining great popularity.

 You mentioned the possible quoting of Russian oil exports to Europe. It seems that a similar recommendation was made by your Polish colleagues at the recent Ukrainian-Polish forum in Warsaw, which you participated in?

-Yes it is. By the way, about Poland. Already at the end of the forum, Polish Foreign Minister Y. Chaputovich quite clearly and definitely expressed himself during his visit to Ukraine on December 1: “Since Russia is“ protecting ”its industrial infrastructure in the Kerch Strait and on the Sea of ​​Azov, in the event that she will also have her in the Baltic Sea; she may also want to protect her in the same way ”. Therefore, in the opinion of the minister, the project should be blocked and the chances for that remain.

-By the way, the fact that our diplomacy in the German direction ceases to be toothless is evident by an interview with the Deutschlandfunk radio station of the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany Andrei Melnik, which caused a considerable resonance in the country and many German media simply quoted it. You, in your Facebook account, also bring excerpts from it. Probably not only because our diplomat’s current considerations coincide with your own approach, which you have been practicing for a long time, but also because, as they say, the status of the head of the diplomatic department of our country in Europe’s leading country is very expensive. Nevertheless, let's recall the main idea of ​​Andrei Melnik.

“Ambassador Melnik turned out to be absolutely accurate in his statement:“ If nothing is done, if you do not take measures that hurt in an economic sense, then you can hardly hope that this aggressive course in the territorial waters of the Black and Azov Sea ends. I believe that a complete embargo on the import of natural gas and oil from Russia would be the best step that would return Putin to an adequate perception of reality. ”

After a similar preamble, he called on the Federal Government of Germany to implement three points. The first two relate to our sailors held in captive: "give Putin a definite ultimatum for an immediate release of the Ukrainian sailors and ships (this will help to deescalate the situation). Immediately send in the Black Sea and Azov Sea squadron of the German Navy with NATO partners to prevent further provocations from RUSSIA "

But in the third recommendation, he called on the West and Germany to prevent further aggressive steps by Russia "to introduce qualitatively new and really painful sanctions for the Putin regime by imposing a full embargo on the import of Russian gas and oil, as well as the freezing of Nord Stream-2". It is from these profits that the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine and Syria is financed. ”

Unless it would be possible, as a deterrent mechanism for Russian aggression, to add further frostbite to the EU to implement projects for the construction of new nuclear power units of Russian construction. By the way, this would be very organic to the soul of German green anti-nuclear sentiment and would stimulate French, Canadian, American, Chinese and other nuclear technology suppliers.

In conclusion, I repeat the statements I drew attention to in the first part of our communication. Our Naftogaz can play its part in blocking SP-2, if it resorts to the arrest of Gazprom pipe products in the ports of Finland, Sweden and Germany, which is now going to work, it is placed on the bottom of the Baltic. And Naftogaz should set an example here, because the Russian monopolist did not pay him $ 2.7 by the decision of the Stockholm arbitration.

“But, you must agree, Mikhail Mikhailovich, that the forces of inertia in Germany (if not to say, more definite reactions) that follow in the awakening of the energy strategy of ex-German Chancellor Schroeder, do not want to miss their personal interest. And we are talking not only about former politicians, but also acting ones. How would you comment on the latest "energy" statement by the head of the German Foreign Ministry, Mr. Gaiko Maas?

-There readers should be reminded that this is not about the Minister of Energy, who can hide behind the mask of a pragmatic-technologist who is not interested in politics, but about the heads of the foreign policy department, where national and European security issues are key. And what does the minister say?

His antilogy is reminiscent of Orwell’s dystopia texts or the logic - post of the speaker of the Russian Foreign Ministry, M. Zakharova. If the latter, implying Ukraine, declared that Russia protects Europe from “barbarism, tyranny, terrorism, aggression, militarism that hang over our entire continent”, in the opinion of Maas, “Germany’s participation in the construction of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline helps to defend the interests of Ukraine. " 

Obviously, the German Kremlin's friends from the European end of the pipe are very quick in absorbing such logic - post. 

It is not for nothing that the partigenosse Maosa and his predecessor, Sigmar Gabriel, also spoke out in a similar way: “I think that in no case should we allow Ukraine to draw us into war. Ukraine tried to do it. ”

It is likely that his political associates like Gabriel, Schroeder… had a job with Maas (who at the beginning of his tenure as foreign minister was notable for harsh criticism of Nord Stream 2) ...

But we do our own! Together, the Nord Stream 2 should be rendered harmless as a harmless time bomb. Then we will save ourselves, and Germany, and Europe!The time for diplomacy of statements and notes with unsupported actions has passed.

Alexander Voronin, FNI

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