US Nord Stream 2 Strategy Works 50:50 Over Germany – OpEd – Eurasia Review

President Biden said in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in February 2022; “The Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany will not go forward if Russia invades Ukraine… then there will be no more Nord Stream 2. We will end it… I promise you we can do it.”

For the United States, the Ukrainian crisis is less about Ukraine than about gas. This is Germany and, in particular, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline which connects Germany to Russia. It was almost fully operational and ready to pump. The Germans would have obtained a reliable source of gas energy while Russia would have had an increase in gas revenues. This win-win situation for both sides did not sit well with the American foreign policy establishment. This is why the Biden administration opposed Nord Stream. It’s not just a pipeline; it is a window to the future bringing Europe and Asia closer together while leaving the United States in the flank both politically and economically, resulting in the slow loss of grip on NATO.

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict realigned the world with new groupings taking shape in the multipolar world order. Germany in this US-NATO alliance to help Ukraine oppose Russia was becoming irrelevant within the EU and NATO. However, the events following the attack on Nord Stream 2, German foreign policy began to work in earnest towards a strategic realignment of their policies towards their own interests. The non-functioning of Nord Stream 2 has forced Germany to fundamentally rethink and forget about Nord Stream 2 for the near future or until Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s current team continues.

President Biden, NATO and US allies had warned Russia that an invasion would bring devastating sanctions and crippling costs. The United States has also told its allies to avoid trading with Russia and China. On February 24, the United States, along with its allies and partners, imposed significant and immediate economic costs on Russia in response to Putin’s war on Ukraine. The sanctions include sweeping financial sanctions and strict export controls that will have a profound impact on Russia’s economy, financial system and access to advanced technologies. The sanctions aim to further isolate Russia from the global financial system. The EU, Australia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have implemented their parallel action plans. Note that Germany was not really aligned with this sanctions game with their country’s interests in mind and was, to some extent, a guardian of US orientations.

During the period, nearly 30 countries imposed various forms of sanctions on Russia’s energy and financial sectors, as well as on Russian imports of semiconductors and key technology components. However, some countries are talking about rethinking. In a thinly veiled critique of Washington’s policy, Scholz said “Beijing’s rise has not vindicated calls by some to isolate China.”

Germany’s U-turns

  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is the first European leader to visit China after the start of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The significance of this visit is that Germany has once again shown its willingness to achieve strategic autonomy from the United States. This was a goal of the German coalition and of German and European countries before the Ukrainian crisis.
  • Despite the Ukraine crisis and critical attention to China, German investment in China increased by 30% in 2022. Germany, as Europe’s largest economy, is more dependent on China. German imports increased by 54%. KfW (Germany’s public development and investment bank) is funding a rail project linking the city of Tianjin in northern China to Beijing Daxing International Airport. China buys 140 Airbus planes. Prior to the visit, Scholz agreed to the China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) to acquire a stake in the container terminal in Hamburg. In 2002, Volkswagen sold 513,000 vehicles in China, setting a new record and surpassing the company’s own sales in Germany, becoming its most important overseas market. Today, the Volkswagen Group in China has factories across the country, producing vehicles and components at more than 40 factories.
  • The ruling SPD believes that German companies cannot afford a decoupling from China, as they are already suffering from the pandemic, the energy crisis and the disconnection with Russia. Scholz’s visit indicated German strategic autonomy. The same autonomy is visible in the context of German relations with Russia.
  • How will Germany maintain its leadership over Europe, if it moves away from the convergence of the US-NATO alliance that has taken place due to the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine? Europe is disturbed that Germany engages with China.
  • According to French officials, President Emmanuel Macron had proposed that he and Scholz visit Xi together to demonstrate their unity and show that Beijing cannot divide European countries by playing their economic interests against each other – a move that the German leader rejected.
  • Scholz said he wants Germany and the EU to cooperate with a rising China – including on the important issue of climate change – rather than trying to lock it down.

On the eve of her visit, Scholz acknowledged that the world had changed dramatically since Merkel’s last visit to China in 2019. Russia was a threat to be fought with Chinese help. Scholz spoke about the multipolarity in the world and the need to expand Germany’s partnerships and seeks to strengthen diversification. Olaf Scholz has started to soften his stance on China and move closer to Beijing. Germany has sought to sell parts of the Port of Hamburg to a Chinese state-owned company despite protests from all relevant ministries and is also pursuing a Chinese takeover of a German chip factory. Trade remains Berlin’s main interest in China.

Policy change for dealing with China

  • It seems that Germany is dictated by the United States for its China policy. However, Germany’s economy ministry will also aim to reduce dependence on Chinese raw materials, batteries and semiconductor products. Many German companies remain fixated on the Chinese market and accuse Berlin of being disconnected from reality.
  • Germany is losing its competitiveness against an increasingly powerful China. American investment in China represents only 2% of its foreign investment, while German investment in this country represents 14% of its total foreign investment. German industry has made a strong contribution to China’s growth at the cost of its own industrial base.
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote in an op-ed for POLITICO and German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Scholz defended his trip to China but stressed that German companies should take steps to reduce “risky dependencies” in industrial supply chains, especially in terms of “advanced technologies”. Scholz noted that President Xi Jinping deliberately pursues a political strategy of making international businesses dependent on China. Chancellor Olaf Scholz insisted the aim was not to “Decouple” – or sever manufacturing ties – from China. The United States itself continues to trade with China for the time being Decoupling trade is not possible. It should be done gradually.

Scholz reportedly told China “Stop his support for Russia’s war against Ukraine and as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China bears a special responsibility. He also warned Beijing that it should not pursue policies aimed at “Chinese hegemonic dominance over the world order”.

The war in Ukraine revealed the geopolitical contradictions. Berlin was forced to abandon a gas pipeline connection to Russia, seek energy elsewhere, and promise to increase defense spending. The United States, when it comes to its foreign policy, has repeatedly provoked clashes and even wars around the world. Many countries and regions, including many of its allies, no longer regard it as a reliable country and have lost faith in its supposedly democratic system.

The significance of this visit by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the timing is that Germany is trying to show its desire to achieve independence from the dictates and influence of the United States. This was a goal of the German coalition and of German and European countries before the Ukrainian crisis. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine saw a major shift in being forced back under US and NATO leadership due to security concerns, with the US playing the game smart and smart on behalf of weaken Russia and attempt a regime change of the president. Cheese fries.

The Ukraine crisis made Europe pay the price for inflation and reduced energy supplies through the US energy game and sanctions that tied Europe economically to Russia and resulted in reduced influence American. Germany seems ready not to give up on China despite European and domestic opposition. Germany must reflect on its economic development and exercise its national and strategic options to acquire the status of leader within the EU at the height of the Merkel era. Merkel was Germany’s first female chancellor and during her time as chancellor, Merkel was often called the de facto leader of the EU, the most powerful woman in the world and, since 2016, the leader of the free world.

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