by Renee Parsons, Global Research [2-13-2023 published].
There is little doubt that the war in Ukraine has always been about decimation of Russia’s energy, financial and military resources; especially as the September 26, 2022 attack on Nord Stream 2 (NS) pipeline confirmed any lingering doubt. Just as there is no serious refutation of the validity of Sy Hersh’s How America took out the Nord Stream Pipeline identifying the US role in what amounted to a military attack on another country’s infrastructure with termination of the NS 2. Hersh’s reputation is as sterling as they come.
Even beyond the unassailable original qui bono, the US has been easily viewed as culpable and Hersh has provided the necessary details although the Russians are inclined to refer to the “Anglo-Saxon” world. The Administration’s denial of “false and complete fiction” focuses on four of its least trusted Administration figures as major accomplices: the senile, imposter President Joe Biden, incompetent Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the depraved Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland with a long history of loathing Russia and Biden’s political adolescent Foreign Policy Advisor Jake Sullivan. They are all consistent in their excessive hostility to Russia and its Nord Stream pipelines as a perceived threat to ‘national security.’
Keeping in mind that ‘sanctions’ are used to punish Russia for daring to have abundant natural energy resources and to construct the NS pipelines which provide reliable and relatively cheap energy to its customers, the ‘national security’ in question requires the substitution of US produced LNG.
Here is the ‘rest of the story” which may provide essential background that fits with Hersh’s narrative.
Buried within Title LXXV of the National Defense Authorization Act (fy 2020) was HR 3206 Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act of 2019 (PEESA). The $738 Billion appropriation was signed by President Donald Trump on December 20, 2019; thereby enacting the NDAA’s contents as authorizing appropriations and establishing federal policy.
Specifically, a summary of the NDAA identifies LNG as a rationale to extinguish the $11 Billion, 760 mile Nord Stream 2 pipeline:
“European businesses involved in Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to European Union have been sanctioned by the United States, which has been seeking to sell more of its own liquefied natural gas (LNG) to European states, with the enactment of the NDAA 2020. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz called the sanctions “a severe intervention in German and European internal affairs.. and an EU spokesman criticized “the imposition of sanctions against EU companies conducting legitimate business.”
On December 11, 2019, the NDAA was adopted in the House on a 377-48 vote with six Republican House Members voting Nay (Reps. Buck (Colo), Gohmert (Texas), Griffith (Va.), Massie (Ky.), McClintock (Calif) and Rice (SC). On December 20, 2019 on an 86 – 8 vote in the Senate, four Republican Senators voted Nay (Sens. Paul (SC), Lee (Utah), Braun (ND) and Enzi (Wyo.).
After adoption of the NDAA, the EU formally opposed targeting sanctions against the pipeline citing EU’s energy sovereignty to conduct its own legitimate business as well as a violation of international law. It is noteworthy that the US Treasury Department has the most sanctions (38) applied in the world which accounts for the level of honor, prestige and respect in which the US is held.
As described in the State Department’s December 27, 2019 “Fact Sheet on US Opposition to Nord Stream 2”:
“Related parties must ensure that vessels involved in Nord Stream 2 “immediately cease construction-related activity” in a “good-faith wind-down,” as indicated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). That includes “involved parties that have knowingly sold, leased, or provided vessels that are engaged in pipe laying at depths of 100 feet or more below sea level for the construction of Nord Stream 2.” Parties that do not comply will face sanctions as described in PEESA.”
As if that were not specific enough, the Fact Sheet adds that
“Nord Stream 2 is a tool Russia is using to support its continued aggression against Ukraine” that would “bypass Ukraine for gas transit to Europe, which would deprive Ukraine of substantial transit revenues” providing the flawed justification that “ the availability of U.S. LNG saved European consumers $8 billion by enabling them to negotiate lower prices with existing suppliers.” The piece de resistance includes “The United States’ intention is to stop construction of Nord Stream 2.”
In addition, the PEESA (Section 7503, as amended) provides the US with
“authority to advance U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives, …to address Russian pipeline projects that create risks to U.S. national security, threaten Europe’s energy security, and consequently, endanger Europe’s political and economic welfare” as it “calls on Russia to cease using its energy resources for coercive purposes. Russia uses its energy export pipelines to create national and regional dependencies on Russian energy supplies .. and undermine U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.”
The fact that the US disinformation campaign could be so far removed from the real world, touting that NS 2 would ‘threaten Europe’s’ energy security” and ‘endanger Europe’s political and economic welfare” as a precursor of current circumstances rather than provide a reasonably cheap and reliable source of fuel is less an error in judgement than it was Administration’s misplaced bombast.
PEESA then directs the Secretary of State to work with the Treasury Department to establish necessary sanctions “imposed on those foreign persons..” as well as “consultation with the governments of Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and member countries of the EU before imposing any sanctions.” It might be noted that Germany was not specifically identified.
Meanwhile, soon after assuming the Presidency and in a surprise move, Biden waived sanctions against Nord Stream that “would negatively impact U.S. relations with Germany, the EU and other European allies and partners” while Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated that he was “determined to do whatever we can to prevent NS 2 completion.” By January, 2021, Angela Merkel continued to support the NS 2 despite US opposition.
In response to Biden’s waiver, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was chief sponsor of S.3897, Protecting Europe Energy Clarification Act which would expand sanctions on the NS 2 project and those engaged in its construction. In commenting with Nuland at a Foreign Relations Committee meeting:
“My understanding is the State Department recommended that sanctions be imposed to try to stop the pipeline, and that the Biden White House overrode that recommendation” and in an grotesque expression of Russian antipathy, Cruz continued
“…in my view a complete and total capitulation by President Biden to Putin. He has given Putin everything he wants. He has surrendered on the pipeline – the pipeline that we had stopped. That we had successfully stopped, until Biden surrendered. I believe this is a generational, geopolitical mistake, that will be reaping billions of dollars of benefits annually from Joe Biden’s mistake and will be using that pipeline to exert economic blackmail on Europe decades from now.”
Commenting on Senate Foreign Affairs Committee’s unanimous approval of sanctions in April, 2021, Sen. Cruz suggested
“Today, a unified, bipartisan, unmistakable message to all companies involved in Nord Stream 2: the United States knows who you are, and if you don’t get out immediately you will be sanctioned. After the Committee’s actions today, no one should be under any illusions what will happen next to any entity that fails to heed this warning” and that
“Ambassador Nuland has committed publicly and privately in conversations with me to using every tool available, including Congressionally-mandated sanctions, to stop Nord Stream 2.”
On January 13, 2022, with the Biden White House still in opposition to sanctions, the Senate approved Cruz’s bill 55-44 to apply immediate sanctions on the NS 2 pipeline. The only Republican voting Nay was Sen. Rand Paul (SC) with Democratic opposition explained as supportive of Biden’s engagement with Russia over the Ukraine conflict rather than outright support for sanctions.
By September, 26, 2022, NS 2 was effectively bombed by unknown entity who had the technical skill and operational know-how to commit such a complex deconstruction maneuver. At the same time, it would be foolish to believe that Russia has been in the dark since September with no skilled expert or technical capability of its own to identify the who did what and when. Despite German and other European opposition to the sanctions in favor of NS 2, Euro vassals folded like a tent and acquiesced when Russia conducted its Special Military Operation in Ukraine on February 24, 2022 as their worst economic and energy fears have come to fruition.
In other words, the US Congress (with few exceptions of integrity) has been known for its irrational and mindless antagonism against Russia witness their multiple standing ovations in its hallowed halls on behalf of the despotic porn king of Ukraine. While it is rumored that negotiations are currently occurring, it remains unclear whether Russia’s response will be comparable to what is internationally recognized as an Act of War which raises the question whether there is any recollection of Russia’s repeated promises to retaliate directly against any foreign power providing Ukraine with weapons of mass destruction?
Renee Parsons served on the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and as president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, staff in the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, an environmental lobbyist for Friends of the Earth and a staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She is a regular contributor to Global Research.