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Pipeline Pact

money-graphics-2008_866705a.jpgThis in from the Wall Street Journal on the somewhat disturbing, political dimensions of Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline.  Approved just last week by Finland and Sweden after ecological concerns were overcome, the project is now ready to get off the ground, or rather under the ground.  For the pipeline will traverse the Baltic Sea floor to Germany, rather than crossing overground through former Eastern bloc countries; a divisive move, Alexandro Peterson suggests:

[ . . . ] The Nord Stream project is part of an exclusionary agreement between Moscow and Berlin–nicknamed in circumvented Warsaw the “Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact,” after the 1939 Soviet-Nazi deal to carve up Poland. It would have been much cheaper to build an overland pipeline through Eastern Europe, but the purpose of Nord Stream from the beginning was to bypass countries Moscow still considers to be part of its sphere of influence.

Russia’s geopolitical message here is clear: It doesn’t trust the new EU member states as transit countries or even as energy consumers and is willing to incur enormous costs to bypass them. The other message–or implied threat–is that Nord Stream will allow the Kremlin to cut off gas deliveries to Eastern Europe through current pipelines without reducing energy supplies to Germany. But what sort of message does Germany, a fellow EU member, intend to send to its neighbors?

Russia’s geopolitical message here is clear: It doesn’t trust the new EU member states as transit countries or even as energy consumers and is willing to incur enormous costs to bypass them. The other message–or implied threat–is that Nord Stream will allow the Kremlin to cut off gas deliveries to Eastern Europe through current pipelines without reducing energy supplies to Germany. But what sort of message does Germany, a fellow EU member, intend to send to its neighbors?

Nord Stream was championed by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who now serves as one of its executives. From within her previous coalition government, current Chancellor Angela Merkel lobbied successfully for EU endorsement of the project even though the pipeline consortium is registered in Switzerland and controlled by Russia’s Gazprom. Of the dozens of companies involved in the pipeline’s construction, not one is from the Baltics, Central or Eastern Europe.

Whole article here