Is the war in Ukraine about expansion of NATO or about preservation of NATO? Had the 1200 km long, undersea pipeline between Germany and Russia’s Siberia been operationalised, it would have heralded the process of dissolution of NATO.
Nord Stream 2, in turn would have created overwhelming dependency of Europe and NATO on Russia, which served as red herring to the US.
Germany is the most critical and crucial member of the NATO. Its dependency on Russian gas would have engendered greater trade between Russia and Germany; greater trade would have given boost greater tourism, greater people to people contact, exchange of cultures and greater confidence in each other currencies, thus posing challenge to primacy of the American dollar.
Russia on the other hand was determined to bypass Ukraine, which was becoming increasingly intransigent over transit fees on the existing pipelines to Eastern Europe. Ukraine was garnering nearly US$3 billion on this score annually.
It may be mentioned that more than 30 percent Russian gas exports from Russia to Europe is through Ukraine. It was rather doubtful that Moscow would have renewed the transit contract in 2024. Nord Stream 2, a mega project, once operationalised would have rendered Ukraine redundant in the energy supply network from Russia to Europe. That in turn would have created overwhelming dependency of Europe and NATO on Russia, which served as red herring to the US. Biden is the third American president to oppose the pipeline. Fresh sanctions were imposed on the pipeline in Nov 2021.
The Russo-German trade is worth $100 billion, far above the India-Russia trade of $10 billion. This rapidly growing bonhomie between Germany and Russia was threatening the very fundamentals of US led global order especially with regard to the West. NATO may have been forged for collective security of western Europe against the threat posed by the Soviet bloc in the Cold War, but post Cold War it has become a tool for underscoring US led western hegemony, otherwise it had no rationale for expansion from 17 members to 29 in post Cold War.
There was tremendous excitement amongst the German populace about the energy and economic prospects of Nord Stream 2, but the US scripted geopolitics has destroyed the geographical and natural boon that the physical proximity between Russia and Germany has to offer. Another country of continental dimensions, i.e. the US, far away from Europe, has bulldozed over the economic and energy imperatives of Germany. Nord Stream 2 had almost become a reality, only the final certification from the German regulator was awaited. It is at this stage that the project has been sabotaged. Ukraine has been used as a geopolitical weapon for the purpose.
From the tenor and mood, the premeditated US agenda to fabricate a crisis was obvious. White House spokesperson was emphatic that “Russian invasion was imminent”.
The plan was simple: provoke Russia to attack Ukraine, then portray Putin as a murderous megalomaniac with the help of accomplice media and pliable countries tied to the US economic and security apron strings, Germany’s volt face under US pressure is shameful. Only till the other day, of all the European countries, Germany was closest and most empathetic to Russia. All that changed within a week. The US considered Germany as the weakest link in the NATO.
In fact Germany was coerced to fall in line in quite a brazen manner. It was quite evident at the President Biden-Chancellor joint press conference at the White House on 08 Feb. From the tenor and mood, the premeditated US agenda to fabricate a crisis was obvious. White House spokesperson was emphatic that “Russian invasion was imminent”. Citing Intelligence sources the State Department representative was even more emphatic, and the National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the invasion could be as early as the very next day. In what can be termed as abysmal and outrageous yellow journalism, the Bloomberg News Agency peddled a totally false head line: “Russia invades Ukraine.” Finally President Biden issued the clincher: “If Russia invades Ukraine … there will be no Nord Stream”. Both the glee and satisfaction could be read from his demeanor, when President Biden said this.
The German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was taken by surprise at this unwarranted statement. It didn’t seem to be part of the agenda for the joint conference. Does the head of the most powerful country in the world issue warning of impending and imminent invasion by a nuclear power and do nothing to prevent and preempt it? This indecision and inaction amounts insult to the Intelligence and, Foreign Policy apparatus of the country! It appears that this apparatus was employed to provoke Russia to invade Ukraine.
In this Biden seems to have taken cue from Jimmy Carter. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the then NSA of US, Zbigniew Brzezinski went to the President and said that he had successfully created Soviet Union’s Vietnam. Much later in an interview he accepted that the US had provoked Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan so as to win the Cold War through the weapon of jihadism. 40 years hence, the weapon is Ukraine.
The US has won the strategic war, even though Russia may win the tactical war by humbling Ukraine.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz had to choose between the national interest of Germany and strategic imperatives of the US. He chose the latter. He announced a five pronged response with much fanfare. He not only expressed solidarity with Ukraine, but declared his intent of rearmament of Germany, and most significantly he promised to reduce energy and economic dependence on Russia. It has also declared that it will increase its defence budget to 2 percent of its GDP, which amounts to $100bn, twice the defence budget of India, volt face is astounding.
The US has stalled the operationalisation of Nord Stream2. NATO has been preserved. The US has injected new purpose and energy into the flailing NATO. It is has accelerated the process of diversification of Europe’s energy dependence on Russia. The diversification factor was root cause of the war in Syria, the Armenia-Azerbijan conflict and now the invasion of Ukraine. Natural gas supply to Europe is critical for the financial health of Gazprom, the Russian gas agency. Gazprom also keeps the Russian population warm.
The US has won the strategic war, even though Russia may win the tactical war by humbling Ukraine. It is now Russia’s headache what it wants to do with Ukraine, US and Europe could least be bothered.