Saturday, December 5, 2020

Nord Stream 2: pipe-laying ship "Akademik Cherskiy" resumes construction work

The russian pipe-laying ship "Akademik Cherskiy", that replaces the vessel of shipping company "Allseas" that withdrew of fear for sanctions, has left the port of Kaliningrad to resume the last stretch of the pipeline. Meanwhile US lawmakers lace a package of sanction measures, writes german newspaper BILD:

Dramatic year-end spurt around the Putin Nordstream 2 pipeline!

In the geopolitically risky billion dollar game around the Baltic Sea pipeline Nordstream 2, the events in Moscow, Berlin and Washington, D.C.
Until new sanctions come into force on January 1st and a new US president is sworn in a few weeks later, all three countries want to create facts that are as robust as possible. According to BILD information, the federal government is once again playing with the wrong cards, and soon-to-be President Joe Biden could tip the scales.

On Thursday evening (December 3), Russia’s state-owned company Gazprom ordered the pipe-laying ship “Akademik Tscherski” to leave Kaliningrad Bay. The ship is currently heading for Germany's exclusive economic zone off the coast of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The controversial pipe that was originally supposed to have been transporting Russian gas to Germany since the beginning of the year is to be continued there on Saturday.
But according to the responsible Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), the ship only has permission to lay a few of the 160 kilometers that are still missing - and only for three weeks. A BSH spokeswoman on Friday (December 4) to BILD: "The construction work in December (two 2.6 kilometers) with ships positioned at anchor is covered by the 2018 approval and the approval of the BSH from October 2020."

For the period from January onwards, Nordstream 2 hastily applied for a change in the building permit in the summer. The Deutsche Umwelthilfe and the Naturschutzbund Deutschland are complaining against this.
The spokeswoman for the BSH on BILD: “The change process for the use of anchor-positioned vehicles is currently running until the end of May. The comments received from nature conservation associations are extensively evaluated. "
USA submit sanction text - Biden gets more power!
The US is not idle either. On Thursday evening, the Senate presented the draft legislation on the US defense budget, which was jointly prepared by Republicans and Democrats. As expected, new sanctions will be introduced against all certifiers, insurers and other companies that support Nordstream 2 with products, facilities or services.
However: The elected President Joe Biden gets - in contrast to his predecessor Donald Trump - the right to suspend the sanctions!

According to BILD information, the draft law will become law before Christmas: "The President may waive the application of the sanctions if the President decides that the waiver is in the national interest of the United States."
BILD learned from US government circles: With Biden's ability to suspend the sanctions, the ball should be played back to the German federal government. A high-ranking US diplomat told BILD that they were looking for “a joint solution to the North Stream 2 problem”. Berlin must act now and "use the window that presents itself".
This "solution" could lead to the completion of the pipeline "after a few years' break or a moratorium" if Russia fulfilled the conditions. These included gas transmission guarantees for Ukraine and Poland as well as the renouncement of further contract killings in Europe (such as 2019 in the Berlin zoo) and the use of chemical weapons, as they were recently used against opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
But the CDU-SPD government in Berlin and the SPD-CDU government in Schwerin (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where Nordstream 2 is supposed to land) are not inactive to protect the Russian project and its German suppliers from the new US sanctions protect.
As BILD reported, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was planning a week ago to set up a “Foundation for Climate Protection MV” which wanted to bundle products and services from German companies through a commercial enterprise in order to finish building the Putin tube and protect the companies involved from sanctions Protect USA.

BILD found out: Both the Chancellery in Berlin and the Foreign Office as well as German informants in the USA who knew the US legal text in advance and transmitted the loophole to Germany were involved in the dubious project.

However, indiscretions in Schwerin led to the action being stopped at the last minute. In the draft resolution “Establishing a Foundation for Climate Protection MV” of November 23, it says that “an immediate foundation is required” due to a “short-term extension of the US sanction regulations”. This should be achieved in an "extraordinary session of the state parliament on November 27, 2020".

But on November 26th, plans were changed after it became clear that the paper had been leaked and given to the media. In addition, the Foreign Office in Berlin is said to have said “Stop!” At the last moment, as they feared a diplomatic scandal with the USA.
In addition, the USA seem to have reacted at the last second in order to close the alleged sanctions loophole - did they find out about the German plan from their sources? ...

The text of the law continues to say that the new sanctions will not be directed against states or state institutions (such as the planned foundation). However, this only applies as long as these facilities “do not operate as a commercial enterprise”.

To put it plainly: A business enterprise founded by the “Stiftung Klimaschutz MV” to handle the Nordstream-2 business of the “protected” German companies would have become the target of possible US sanctions.

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