Sassnitz on the island of RügenPhoto: Jens Koehler / imago images
Post from the Senate from Washington, that has probably not happened very often in Sassnitz on the island of Rügen. Unfortunately, it is not a friendly, non-binding letter of greeting, but a letter in a condescending and imperious tone, almost as if Sassnitz was not a tranquil 9,000-inhabitant town in the land of a close ally, but a retreat of a rogue regime.
In the letter, three Republican senators warn of "devastating legal and economic sanctions" if the port operators of Sassnitz do not stop all support for the laying of the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. And the threat is expressly not only directed against entrepreneurs and shareholders - but also against the employees , i.e. all employees of the companies concerned.
Russian pipe laying vessel "Fortuna" in the port of SassnitzPhoto: Jens Koehler / imago images
The letter shows: The Grenellization of US foreign policy continues - even after Richard Grenell's departure as ambassador in Berlin. When he came to Berlin in 2018, the German public first became acquainted with this new, irritatingly cutting tone: the diplomat had not yet arrived, and in May 2018 he was already telling German companies via Twitter, "immediately" all business in Iran.
The matter is paradoxical: There are sound reasons to be critical of the Russian pipeline. The deal brings billions in revenue to Gazprom, an opaque and corrupt state-owned company. Fossil fuels like natural gas are accelerating climate change, and Russia is also building the pipe to bypass Ukraine and save billions in payments that it would otherwise have to transfer to Kiev as transit fees. To a government that is also trying to stabilize Germany with a lot of money. Actually. In addition, there is the more than dubious point in time at which the pipeline project was started: it was not long ago that the project partner Russia had annexed the Crimea and cheerfully interfered in foreign elections.
But above all, the US opponents of the pipeline use another argument: Europe's alleged dependence on Russian gas. Donald Trump has therefore already dubbed Germany "Russia's hostage". In fact, Germany has been buying more and more pipeline gas from the East for decades - first from the Soviet Union, then from Russia. But does that mean that Germany would become politically dependent? In any case, the number of geopolitical conflicts in which the German government has sided with Russia instead of the USA over the decades can be counted on one hand.
Doubts about the real motivations of the US
The currently much greater danger to German-American relations is the course taken by the United States, the irritating barking tone when dealing with an ally - coupled with well-founded doubts about Washington's real motivations. Not only concerns about "Europe's energy security" can be found in the CAATSA sanctions law - but also about sales markets for American liquid gas. It is also about "giving priority to the export of US energy resources in order to create American jobs (...)", so it says in the corresponding passage.
Regardless of whether the workers in Sassnitz and on the Russian laying ships are still laying the last pipes or the project as a ruin is ending: In the end, Washington's action against Nord Stream 2 will have separated Germany and the USA more than any Russian pipeline has ever done could have.Icon: The mirror