Thursday, January 7, 2021

Nord Stream 2: German PM creates foundation in order to circumvent sanctions

German newspaper BILD has the details:

The state government of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, led by Manuela Schwesig (SPD), will stretch a state protective umbrella over German companies involved in the Putin Nord Stream 2 pipeline this week to protect them from the threat of US sanctions.

This is according to confidential documents obtained by BILD.

According to the documents, there will be a special cabinet meeting today, Wednesday, in which the red-black government will agree on the establishment of a "Stiftung Klimaschutz MV" (Climate Protection Foundation MV). Just 24 hours later, the state parliament is to wave through the establishment of the foundation in a special session (actually on the current Corona situation). With resistance of the similarly Russia-friendly opposition from AfD and left is not to be counted thereby, so an Insider to BILD.

At the same time, the Schwesig cabinet makes no secret of what the alleged environmental foundation is to be used for.

In the draft resolution for her cabinet, which is available to BILD, it says: "The state government is establishing a foundation that will support and promote these climate protection activities in the state through a wide variety of organizations and institutions as well as those involved in civil society, and at the same time can make a contribution to the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project." Specifically, the foundation will "perform tasks related to the further construction of Nord Stream 2," according to the draft resolution.

In justification, it says, "Current sanctions legislation by the U.S. makes it necessary to establish the foundation without delay." To circumvent this, it says, "the establishment of an economic business operation in the foundation with the aim of contributing to the continuation of work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline" is planned.

Telltale: the alleged environmental foundation will not be located at the Schwerin Ministry of Agriculture and Environment, for example, but "the Ministry of Energy, Infrastructure and Digitalization will be authorized to implement the establishment of the foundation," according to the draft resolution also prepared at the Ministry of Energy and obtained by BILD.

And it gets even thicker. The Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state government has apparently already coordinated closely with Nord Stream 2 AG - a wholly owned subsidiary of the Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom - in the conception of the foundation.

Documents available to BILD state that an agreement was reached with the Russians "that Nord Stream 2 will exempt the foundation and its employees from liability for negligent acts within the framework of the contracts to be concluded with the foundation."

A German state government, in other words, setting up a public foundation in coordination with Russian state-owned companies in order to conclude contracts with them and support them with German taxpayers' money.

And the project will not be cheap. "Budgetary expenditures of 200,000 euros for the foundation capital" would be provided initially. In addition, there would be an execution expense of 50,000 euros. In addition, costs would be incurred each time the foundation acquired materials or services to provide to the companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2.

The foundation's board of directors will be appointed by the SPD/CDU government in Schwerin with politicians from both parties. The foundation's chairman will be former SPD state premier Erwin Sellering, and his deputy will be EPP/CDU MEP Werner Kuhn, who will serve until 2019.

As BILD already reported at the beginning of December, Manuela Schwesig's government has the full backing of the German government for its plan. Together with "German sources in Washington," the concept of a state foundation to circumvent the coming U.S. sanctions had been drawn up. Since these can only be directed against private companies, it is hoped in Berlin and Schwerin that the efforts of U.S. President-elect Joe Bidens to criticize Russia can be undermined in this way.

While in November there were still scruples on the part of the Foreign Office about taking Moscow's side against the U.S. after the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Nawalny with the chemical agent Novichok, these have now apparently evaporated.

As recently as September, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) had said that he certainly did not hope that "the Russians will force us to change our position on Nord Stream 2." On Dec. 28, he said, "The German government will not change its position on Nord Stream 2."

Green light, then, for Germany's defense of the Putin pipeline by any means necessary.

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