The US leadership is looking into options for applying unilateral sanctions against participants in the Nord Stream–2 project but does not at the same time deny that the coventurers are free to build the pipeline. This was stated by US President Donald Trump while answering journalists' questions after talks with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda on Wednesday.
As senior fellow with the Center for German Studies at the Institute of Europe RAS Alexander Kamkin noted in this regard, "the introduction of sanctions that would stop the construction of the Nord Stream–2 gas pipeline is possible in theory, but rather difficult to implement in practice. If we recall the history of the American sanctions war unleashed back in the early 2000s against the Islamic Republic of Iran, the algorithm was as follows: exposed to sanctions restrictions are companies and countries in the markets of third countries. In other words, companies involved in the Nord Stream–2 consortium of third countries come under pressure from the US in the markets of other European countries or in other parts of the world.
It is quite difficult to implement this with a sanctions consensus, but complicating the lives of such companies is well within the American reach. If we take the history of some 10 to15 years ago, for instance, there were cases when Japanese manufacturers of high-precision measuring equipment faced real difficulties due to their appearance on the sanctions lists and alleged participation in the nuclear program of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Also the expert believes that "such sanctions will complicate relations between Germany and the United States to a certain extent. But now we see some far-reaching plans voiced by future German Chancellor Kramp-Karrenbauer. In a recent statement she virtually supported many of Donald Trump's moves. Therefore, in case of a continuity of power and Merkel's success in driving the situation to a smooth handover of power to her successor, the German elite will become even more transatlantic and forgive the Americans a lot for the sake of maintaining the presence of German companies in the US market. And its capacity is several times higher than that of German business in Russia.
"It is therefore entirely possible for the time being that Germany will yield to the United States. But at the same time, this situation is reminiscent of Buridan's ass between two bundles of hay without knowing which one to choose. On the one hand, the American market is very important for German business, and on the other hand, the prospects of becoming a landmark hub in Europe's gas distribution system is also vital for that country.
"All the more so as gas is not only an energy carrier, but also a valuable resource for a variety of chemical industries, so it is exceedingly profitable for the Germans to become a trendsetter in this regard. Therefore, there will be quite a tough struggle between various centers of lobbying, that will promote the interests of the German energy sector for one part, and the interests of its American partners for the other. It is so far tough to tell how this struggle will end, but ultimately I believe Nord Stream–2 will be implemented after all, perhaps with some delays, including complications for the member states' companies."