Trump’s Russian affair spills over and upsets Europe

8 July 2017. Hamburg, Germany. German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit. (Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler).

The turmoil in the American political system, caused by President Donald Trump’s Russian affair is having spillovers in Europe. Of course, it’s not the first time that Trump and his out of control political ‘inspirations’ instigate trouble for the Old Continent and the rest of the world. This time however, the US Congress prepares new aggressive legislation against Russia, in a distinct step to counter Trump’s pro-Russian openings. In this way, the conflict between Trump and the Congress about the Russian connection, is now seriously threatening Europe’s political symmetry. Let’s try to read between the news headlines.

Unfortunately, this week, the new sanctions against Moscow which the American legislators in the Senate and the House of Representatives are preparing, are bound to seriously harm the economic relations between the EU and Russia and more precisely the Berlin – Moscow energy links. Brussels and Moscow relations are not currently at their best. Western Europeans have never accepted and will not swallow the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russians. To be reminded, on 18 March 2014, in the peak of the Ukrainian civil war, the Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to incorporate the Ukrainian province of Crimea in the Russian Federation.

Precarious equilibrium

Some months before this aggressive move, Moscow plotted the capture of this Ukrainian soil by a Russian army, which bore no insignia at all. Ostentatiously, they were Crimean ‘patriots’ who wanted their county to join ‘mother Russia’. At least this is what the Kremlin had said at the time. The historical truth is though that until 1954 Crimea was a Russian province. The then Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev though suddenly decided to make Crimea a ‘gift’, to the then ‘sister’ socialist republic of Ukraine. At that time, this transfer didn’t mean much, because Russia along with Ukraine and the other socialist republics belonged the USSR, under the iron grip of Moscow.

Still, what Putin did in 2014 was a unilateral redrafting of the European map, and as such couldn’t be accepted by the two major Western European powers, Germany and France. From that moment onwards, the EU, in close consultation with the US, both imposed similar trade and other kind of sanctions on Russia and on some Russian citizens, directly implicated in the annexation of Crimea.

However, those punitive measures never questioned the huge supplies of Russian natural gas to Germany and other EU member states. In many respects those supplies are indispensable for the smooth functioning of many EU economies and despite the efforts to diversify their energy supply sources they are still dependent on Russian natural gas, especially in winter.

Scratching old wounds

Conversely now, Republican and Democrat legislators together have prepared new rules to effectively oppose President Trump’s openings to Russia, by punishing Moscow with too harsh sanctions. They have agreed to pass the new law with such a majority, as to make it impossible for the President to veto it.

The new rules among other things will punish the German firms which are currently building a second gas pipeline, transferring Russian natural gas to Germany and then to central Europe. In general, whoever collaborates with Russia will be targeted by the US authorities. When the details of the new American legislation became known, Berlin reacted strongly, threatening with retaliatory countermeasures. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn’t hide her frustration about that.

Brussels and Berlin

Brussels’ reaction though was more moderate. For one thing, this North Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, jointly owned by German firms and the Russian giant Gazprom has attracted criticism even within the EU, including France. At least theoretically the European Union is supposed to do whatever it takes to diversify its natural gas supplies away from Russia, to other producers. Nevertheless, Berlin doesn’t seem to bother much about that. The issue has been haunting the Franco-German relations for a long time.

Under this light, a Commission Press release spoke of “unintended consequences” from the new Senate legislation. According to Reuters, the Commission also said that “We understand that the Russia/Iran sanctions bill is driven primarily by domestic considerations.” According to the same source “EU diplomats are concerned that a German-U.S. row over the North Stream 2 pipeline being built by Russia’s state-owned Gazprom could complicate efforts in Brussels to forge an EU consensus on negotiating with Russia over the project”.

To be noted, initially, the new trade and other punitive measures were intended against Iran. Then North Korea was added to the outcasts to be punished. The Republican and Democrat legislators, though, who oppose Trump’s Putin openings, found the opportunity this week to include Russia in the bill, despite strong opposition from the President.

Unintentional catastrophe

Evidently the American legislators are now threatening, very likely unintentionally, to deeply disturb Europe and give new dimensions to an old divisive issue. The Northern Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea is a flagrant case of Germany being caught paying no attention to basic EU policy priorities. Berlin, instead of diversifying its supplies of natural gas away from Russia, now builds a second pipeline together with Gazprom to transport more Russian gas to Western Europe.

In short, the spillovers of the multifaceted issue of the relations between Russia and Trump’s team – both back in the electoral period of 2016 as well as now in government – is seriously disturbing the rest of the world. If the Congress decides that the new and harsher sanctions meant for Iran are also to be applied to Russia, the whole world will feel the heat. No need to say that Moscow has already threatened with retaliatory measures against the US and has said that this leads the relations between the two countries to uncharted waters.

 

 

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

A new European banking space is born this year

COP21 Breaking News_12 December: Another sleepless night for the negotiators before Indaba meeting

Refugee crisis update: Commission still in panic while Turkey is to be added in the equation

Draghi’s ‘quasi’ announcement of a new era of more and cheaper money

When is Berlin telling the truth about the EU banking union?

Will ECB win against low inflation by not following Quantitave Easing?

Does the EU want GMOs and meat with hormones from the US?

European Union: More taxes out of less income

Is there a chance for the West to win the war on terror?

European Youth Forum welcomes establishment of new Youth Intergroup in the European Parliament

Press coverage of migration crisis in Europe: a call for collaborative action

Convincing the Germans to pay also for the unification of Eurozone

Scotland and First Minister Salmond enter the most challenging battlefield for independence: Europe

Refugee crisis update: Commission is struggling alone with little help from EU or G7 leaders

New skills needed for medical students in Industry 4.0

JADE May Meeting last call for participants – join us in Zagreb

Who really cares for the environment?

Yes, together we can make a change! YO!Fest and EYE 2016

“The winner is who can accelerate the transition to a new digital era”. The Sting reports live from EBS 2015: a Digital Europe 4.0

Eurozone: Retail sales betray economic frailty

Britain in and out of the EU

Does the Greek deal strengthen the Eurozone? Markets react cautiously

JADE visits Lithuanian Junior Initiatives

Greferendum: the biggest political gaffe in western modern history to tear Europe apart? #Grexit #Graccident

Why the ECB suddenly decided to flood banks with money?

European Sting Cookie Policy

JADE Spring Meeting 2015: a step forward for Youth Entrepreneurship

Draghi left alone with no hope of boosting EU growth as Merkel just focuses on next elections

More state aid to big firms, no special provisions for the SMEs

Germany and France only care about keeping their borrowing cheap

The refugee crisis brings to light EU’s most horrible flaws and nightmares

Youth unemployment: No light at the end of the tunnel

The EU slowly exits from “Excessive Deficit Procedure” and hopefully from ‘Excessive Austerity Procedure’ too

Access to ‘affordable’ medicines in India: challenges & solutions

Arlington, USA: kick-off of the fifth round of the EU-US boxing match

We are close yet so far…

Cloud computing under scrutiny in the EU?

YO!Fest back in Strasbourg for the 2nd edition of the European Youth Event – 20-21 May 2016

Neelie Kroes at the European Young Innovators Forum: Unconvention 2014

The 28 EU leaders show contempt for the European Elections results

Will Europe be a different place this Monday?

EU is now giving Google new monopolies to the detriment of European citizens and Internet companies

We’ll succeed together

Will Merkel ever steer the EU migration Titanic and restore her power in Germany?

SCADA Security Conference 2017 in Prague, Czech Republic

MWC 2016 LIVE: Telenor CEO calls on operators to embrace Mobile Connect initiative

China’s stock markets show recovery signs while EU is closely watching in anticipation of the €10bn investment

IMF’s Lagarde indirectly cautioned Eurozone on deflation

Who is to lose from the 6-month extension of the EU economic sanctions against Russia?

Counting unemployment in the EU: The real rate comes to anything between 16.1% and 20.6%

G20 LIVE: G20 leaders reaffirm OECD’s role in ensuring strong, sustainable and inclusive growth

Maros Sefcovic Canete European Commission Energy

Better late than never? Commission runs now to fight energy dependency on Russia with the sustainable energy security package

US, Russia oblige each other in Syria and Ukraine selling off allies

The historic accomplishment of a seamless EU patent and intellectual property space

Greece did it again

The European Parliament wants to stay in one place

How to test if Kiev’s ‘Maidan’ was an authentic revolt or a well-planned operation

A Sting Exclusive: why the environment is important to your health, by UNEP’s Head for Europe

Tsipras imposes more austerity on insolvent Greece; plans to win new early election soon

The Europe we want: Just, Sustainable, Democratic and Inclusive

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s