Thursday, August 6, 2020

Nord Stream 2: US sanctions designate german port of Sassnitz; threat of economic annihilation

US Senators, among them Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Ron Johnson have written a letter to the managment of the port of Sassnitz in northern Germany, where the pipes for the remaining 160 km of the controversed Nord Stream 2 pipeline are stored.
In this letter the senators made the management understand that they will face direct and immediate sanctions (travel bans, freezing of assets in the US) should they support further working steps to complete Nord Stream 2. What makes this additionally dicey is the fact that Sassnitz is in the constituency of german chancellor Angela Merkel. Welt

"After the recent US threats of sanction against German project partners of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline, German government officials were outraged - nothing more. There was no comment on possible reactions to US interference.
But it can no longer stop tere: In a letter from Wednesday, US senators threaten the German ferry port Sassnitz on Rügen directly and “legally binding” for economic destruction. The port is in the constituency of Angela Merkel (CDU).
The Chancellor had always supported the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, but was always careful to maintain diplomatic restraint and to balance Russian and American interests. Now the sharply worded threatening letter from the USA could cause the Chancellor to stand behind the companies and affected employees in her constituency more decisively. The Federal Government said of the letter: "We are in contact with American partners. And we have always made it clear that we reject unilateral sanctions against German and European companies. "
Far-reaching sanctions hit the board, the employees and all shareholders of the Sassnitz port of Mukran, if they were still involved in any way in the completion of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline, the US Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Ron Johnson said in their letter of 5 August.
The tubes for the 160 kilometers of pipeline still to be built are stored on the port site. In addition, the port serves as a base for the two Russian layships "Fortuna" and "Akademik Cherskiy", which are to bring the project to an end after the United States had caused the Swiss ship owner Allseas to end all work with comparable threats last year. Even relocating the steel pipes to another Baltic Sea port could therefore be threatened with sanctions.
After US ministries had already increased the pressure on project participants from the private sector last week, congressmen are now directly targeting a German public-sector infrastructure institution: At Fährhafen Sassnitz GmbH, the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is also located next to the municipality involved. The state government has so far not been reachable for an opinion.
The letter to the port management under Harm Sievers and the "Legal Director" Fridjof Ostenberg is worded uncompromisingly: It serves as a "formal legal notice" that the supply of the Russian laying ships and any further involvement in the pipeline construction "involve the risk, the ferry port Sassnitz GmbH and the port of Mukran as well as their board members, managing directors, shareholders and employees to suspend legal and economic sanctions ”.
These sanctions literally include “potentially fatal measures that will cut the Fährhafen Sassnitz GmbH off economically and financially from the United States”.
The US Senators rely on the recently expanded Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). As part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act (PEESA), the sanctions threatened this year and next will no longer be at the discretion of US President Donald Trump. "The sanctions are mandatory and there is no discretion in imposing them," the senators say.
Any support for the Russian lay-up ships could obviously trigger the threatened sanctions. The letter to the Sassnitz port manager literally states: “Your supply to the 'Fortuna' or the 'Akademik Cherskiy' will definitely be sanctionable at the moment when one of the two ships puts a pipe for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline into the water dives or carries out a pipe laying activity relevant to the project. "In addition," Your risk extends to all activities related to goods, services or pipeline support ".
The threats are so massive that they seem unacceptable to port operators without strong political support from Berlin and Brussels. "The board members, managing directors and shareholders of Fährhafen Sassnitz GmbH will be prohibited from entering the United States, and any property or shares in property that is in our jurisdiction will be frozen," the US letter said.
"Any property or portion of property that Fährhafen Sassnitz GmbH has within the jurisdiction of the United States will also be frozen, as will any future property that comes into our jurisdiction, including all transactions that go through our financial system."
The US sanctions threats also include the banks and insurers of the threatened companies. “In fact, it is prohibited for any American person or company to do business with these persons or with Fährhafen Sassnitz GmbH, including the export of goods via the port of Mukran or the import of goods from the port of Mukran or the insurance of ships that do so Carry out activities ", continues the threatening letter:" Fährhafen Sassnitz GmbH and its board members, managing directors, shareholders and employees are cut off from the United States. "
"These sanctions are not only mandatory, but immediate," said Congressmen. "If you continue to provide goods, services, and support for the Nord Stream 2 project, including through the provision of the 'Fortuna' and the "Akademik Cherskiy," you would destroy the future financial survival of your company, "says the Washington letter unequivocally:" In the meantime, you would destroy the value of your shareholders and face billions of dollars in shareholder lawsuits for violating your fiduciary duty. "
The United States views the pipeline "as a serious threat to European energy security and US national security," the letter said. "The government and Congress, as well as both parties, are united in their commitment to ensure that the pipeline remains unfinished and that these threats are never realized."
In fact, there are also economic interests of the US oil and gas industry behind the massive action. According to a listing by the online portal Opensecrets, Republican MP Ted Cruz from Texas, one of the signatories, was one of the largest donors in the American oil and gas industry in 2018 with $ 765,083."

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