Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
7th June, 2016
Geopolitics is politics + economics + geography. In the struggle for control over territories and resources, the geographical position explains the steps of competitors and what is happening. A good example is the “geopolitics of gas pipe”. That is, the battle between the US and Russia for influence in Europe and Ukraine. South stream, Nord stream. Turkish stream. Where do they flow and what are all these “streams”?
I commented on the meaning of the struggle by phone to the online resource Nakanune.
The transfer of equipment for the Nord stream-2″ from the “South” began. In the framework of the “Nord stream 2” project, a geophysical survey of the offshore section of the pipeline was completed, and a geotechnical investigation is ongoing. The cost of the project of the “Nord stream – 2” pipeline is estimated at €8 billion, reported the financial Director of “Nord Stream – 2” Paul Corcoran at the meeting of the International Business Congress in Saint-Petersburg.
Nikolay Starikov: “Let’s start with the obvious question: why does Russia want to build Nord stream, and why do the US and EU strongly oppose it? It is pure geopolitics, and nothing more, and there is no economy present at all. The task of the US is to do everything to force Russia to use the Ukrainian gas pipe as the primary means of delivering gas to Europe.
This makes it possible, firstly, to finance the regime in Kiev – about $5 billion a year. Secondly, it enables the US to arm Kiev to blackmail Russia and Europe via an interruption in the supply. To guess whether geopolitics prevails here over the economy, it is easy enough to ask yourself the question – are European countries interested if the instability in Ukraine had no impact on the stability of gas supplies? At first glance it would seem so. But, on the contrary, European institutions should welcome the construction of additional capacities of the “Nord stream” gas pipeline, as instability in Ukraine in no way affected the situation in Europe. However, we see all sorts of obstacles, not only by individual states, which may remain without money, but also from the European Union. The US applies pressure for geopolitical reasons.
Why is “Nord stream-2” now a focused geopolitical confrontation? Russia had two options for the construction of alternative ways to deliver gas to Europe – the “South” and “North”. As for the “South”, we know that it was blocked at first by Bulgaria and then by organizing a color revolution in Macedonia. “Turkish stream”, which was some version of the “South stream”, was eliminated by the attack of the Turkish air force on our Russian aircraft. All of this can clearly be seen as being in the geopolitical interests of the United States, so now the fight is for the construction of the “Nord stream-2”. And here Russia is doing everything to ensure that it flows, but the West, in this case it is the European structures and the US, is doing everything to make sure it is never built.
In this context, we should understand the statement made by the head of Gazprom, Alexsey Miller, and the approximate cost of constructing the pipeline. The less it will cost, the more attractive it will look in the eyes of Europeans. The second thing we should understand is that money has no role at all. If Nord stream is actually built, and Russia is able to supply gas to Europe, bypassing Ukraine, it will eventually lead to the bankruptcy of the current regime in Kiev and political changes in Ukraine. First and foremost, this will lead to the end of the war in Donbass. That is, in fact, the geopolitics of gas pipes is a struggle for today’s Ukraine and for the cessation of the armed conflict in the territory of that state.
The US has already used their entire arsenal, starting with environmentalists who were trying to torpedo the “Nord stream”, to change the rules in the gas sector. To cite one example that highlights the absurdity of the situation – due to the change in rules in the European Union, today the existing “Nord stream” pipe can be loaded only to 50%, and the remaining 50% must be free for the sake of the hypothetical, but rather mythical, emergence of an alternative supplier. “Competition” in this case leads to the fact that sending a volume of gas equal to 100% needs not 1 tube of the appropriate diameter, but two pipes of the same diameter. In fact, you can’t build “Nord stream – 2”, but just fill 100% of the existing capacity of “Nord stream”.
In order to understand who is interested in this geo-economic project, you just need to see who supports it. If this project would be generally not interesting to anyone, there would be no opportunity at all to speak about it early on. No one would have created a consortium, no one would have talked about the possibility of lending to this project, the leaders of Germany would harshly say that we do not need it. This would end the discussion. But please note — at the time, the leaders of the Balkan states said that they are interested in the “South stream”project – then they changed their position.
Erdogan said that “Turkish stream” is very important, took the first steps, and then its not that he changed his mind, but he took an extremely hostile position against Russia. We see that some international forces, with some “unknown ways”, changed the position of entire nations or the opinions of the leaders of these states, trying to derail projects that are initiated by Russia. I think that we will see such actions in relation to the “Nord stream-2”. The gas contract, under which Gazprom transports gas through Ukrainian territory, ends after 2019. We must understand that today Ukraine, due to a coup d’etat, is a government that is not able to support itself, for many reasons. So the loss of gas transit is an additional 5 billion euros that someone should give Ukraine. Europe does not want to do this. But if the United States blocks the construction of the “Nord stream-2”, it means that Europeans will have to fork out to contain the collapsing Ukrainian economy in an ever-increasing scale.