Senior U.S. government officials regularly warn their Latin American counterparts about China’s growing economic presence. This leads, according to his speech, to dependence on China and its growing influence on the policies of Latin American governments. At the same time, the United States is putting political and economic pressure on Latin American governments to exclude, for example, Chinese companies from 5G licensing. This interference with the sovereign rights of independent states is not new to Latin America as the traditional “backyard” of northern power. But now this interference is also evident in Europe.
Under President Joe Biden, the United States, like European governments, is once again defending a liberal, rules-based world order that applies equally to all. But at the same time, the United States is claiming the privilege of ignoring these rules at will.
This is exactly what is happening with the extraterritorial and unilateral sanctions against the construction of a gas pipeline between Russia and Germany across the Baltic Sea. The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline – which will strengthen Nord Stream 1, in service since 2012 – is 1,230 kilometers long and, at the end of March, only 121 kilometers were missing. However, the United States has set itself a goal of preventing the final stretch from ending in sanctions against companies linked to the project.
The sanctions are based on an act of the United States Congress that has the self-proclaimed goal of protecting Europe’s energy security. If it was not about Europe, one could almost speak of a neocolonialist law. The United States unilaterally defines and decides how Europe will preserve its energy security vis-à-vis Russia and will claim the right to impose sanctions on European companies. Can anyone be tempted to say that, with friends like these who need enemies?
Sanctions against companies specializing in pipeline placement were initially implemented under the Trump administration and were extended in 2021 to a growing spectrum of companies related to pipeline construction, including companies. involved in the financing of projects, insurers and certifiers. New Secretary of State Antony Blinken has clearly taken a stand against the project and the US government is considering appointing a special envoy to shut down Nord Stream 2.
The German government considers the extraterritorial sanctions of the United States to be illegal under international law as illegal. For the United States, fining European companies that legitimately conduct business is a violation of European sovereignty. In addition, the United States wants to profit economically from the sanctions and to externalize the costs of its policy against Russia.
A decision by the German government not to proceed with the project could be costly. Companies involved in the project could legally claim damages estimated at around 10 billion euros. As an alternative to Russian gas, the Trump administration promoted American liquefied natural gas (LNG), called “freedom gas,” which is often not priced competitively with Russian gas. And while the United States worries about Europe’s energy dependence, Bloomberg reported that, according to its calculations, Russian oil shipments to the United States reached an all-time high last year.
Russia has even overtaken Saudi Arabia to become the third largest supplier of oil to the United States. Putin’s foreign exchange gains – in US dollars – seem less of a concern to the United States than his income from selling natural gas in Europe.
The pipeline will not increase Russia’s energy dependence; in the long term, the demand for natural gas will decline due to the transition to renewables in Europe. It would be a smarter, less confrontational strategy for the United States to help accelerate this process. And, as an intermediate phase, natural gas, in any case, is greener than coal.
If the disruption of the final stage of Nord Stream 2 materializes, Russia could extort money from Ukraine by transporting less gas (or, in the extreme case, none) through the pipelines that cross and supply the country. neighbour. These side effects can be treated by other means (as has already been the case with guarantees for Ukraine) and do not necessarily require the possession of Nord Stream 2.
True, there are also objections to the gas pipeline in Germany and other European countries. It is questionable whether, from an ecological point of view, Nord Stream 2 would be rebuilt today. Sanctions may be justified under certain conditions, but they must not infringe the same international legal order that you wish to protect. The law cannot be applied retroactively to European companies which have entered into the project under other conditions, contracts must be respected – Russia has fulfilled its contractual obligations to Germany in the past – and national laws do not should not be applied to companies located in third countries that behave in accordance with local laws.
If Europe cannot protect its companies from illegal US sanctions, what will happen to the so-called strategic autonomy? Perhaps future EU-LAC summits should put the issue of US transgressions on the agenda and adopt a common position; especially since the subject is not new in Latin America.
At some point, a US senator may create a law to protect Latin America from China and sanction companies that do business with that Asian country. Does that sound overkill to you? If the United States can enforce their laws even in Europe, what prevents them from doing so in Latin America? Caution is advised when the United States declares its intention to protect its friends
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