The following is a series of texts from various outlets in our translation, starting with a translation of an article from the popular German magazine Bild, followed by a paragraph from the German version of Reuters, a translation from Russkaya Gazeta and finally an English language text from the EU web site. You will be hard put to find pertinent information on this topic in English reflecting the German and Russian viewpoints on US extraterritorial sanctions or a similar series of translations like this.
Commentary and notes [in brackets] are by Vince Dhimos.
The main conclusion from all of this is that bullying has not borne the expected fruit. Europe did not lie down before Washington and play dead as it was wont to do in the past.
Merkel's declaration of war on Donald Trump
The US Parliament has decided to impose sanctions to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline against Germany's resistance. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has now found clear words.
Your message on Wednesday to US President Donald Trump: "I see no other way but to have discussions [stating] that we do not approve of this practice."
A clear declaration of war! Merkel does not want the United States to continue to torpedo the gas pipeline project that Germany supports.
► Background: The USA wants to stop, at the last few meters, the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. To this end, the US Congress passed a law with sanctions against the leadership [of the pipeline project], which only lacks the signature of President Donald Trump.
Nord Stream 2 AG plans to apply for an exceptional permit for the construction of its pipeline in German waters on Monday.
However, the project, which costs around ten billion euros, can hardly be stopped. It is nearing completion.
Moscow sees the sanctions as an attempt by Washington to pursue US energy interests in order to bring more expensive [US] liquefied gas to the EU market.
Maas: Punitive measures are unacceptable
After the vote in the House of Representatives last week, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) unsuccessfully called on the Senate not to agree to the sanctions. He had criticized punitive measures on the ZDF [TV] program "Maybrit Illner" as unacceptable, "because this ultimately influences the autonomous decisions that have been made in Europe."
Germany and Europe already get gas from Russia through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, and above all from transit lines through Ukraine.
To date, according to the Nord Stream 2 consortium, more than 2,100 kilometres of the double string have been laid in the Baltic Sea. Around 300 kilometres are still missing. The sanctions could, at the least, delay the completion of the work because Russia may have to look for other special vessels to lay the lines on the bottom of the Baltic Sea.
The sanctions are an ideal example of "unfair competition" with the aim of offering Europe a more expensive product, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov. He is referring to liquefied natural gas from the USA, which costs more than Russian pipeline gas.
“Such actions do not please Moscow or the European capitals; Berlin and Paris don’t like them,” said Peskov. He accused the US of violating international law and “expanding its artificial dominance to the European market.”
Manuela Schwesig (45, SPD), Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, agreed: "This is an absolutely unacceptable decision, especially since there is suspicion that their own economic interests play a role here," Schwesig told the editorial network Deutschland. Germany "should be able to decide for itself from whom and how they get their energy." In view of the phase-out of nuclear and coal energy, the Putin pipeline is also intended to ensure energy security [This is intended to counter the ridiculous US charge that buying energy from Russia is a threat to European energy security]. Schwesig: "I very much hope that they will succeed in completing the pipeline."
How did the US sanctions come about?
The United States argues that the pipeline would make Germany dependent on Russia. The sanctions in the “Protect European Energy Security Act” target the operating companies of the highly specialized ships with which the pipes for the pipeline are laid through the Baltic Sea.
Turkish Stream, a Russian pipeline for bringing gas to Turkey through the Black Sea, would also be affected. The sanctions would also apply to follow-up projects from both pipelines.
The law requires the U.S. Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Treasury, to report to Congress within 60 days which ships are used and which companies have made these ships available. Managers of the companies and their main shareholders with a controlling majority are to be banned from entering the United States. Existing visas would be revoked. Transactions by those affected that relate to their property or their business interests in the USA would be blocked.
Our next translation is from the German language section of Reuters.
The federal government rejected the impending US sanctions on Thursday. "We regret the vote in the US House of Representatives," said a Department of Commerce spokeswoman. "Our stance on extraterritorial sanctions is clear: we reject them." The economy even called for counter-sanctions against the United States: "It is time for Berlin and Brussels to take a clear political position and respond with targeted countermeasures. The energy independence of Europe is at stake,” said AHK chief Seele.
Next a short article from Ostexperte.
OMV-Chef Seele: „Diese Pipeline wollen wir bauen!“
13 Sep 2017
By Thorsten Gutmann
OMV boss Seele: "We will build this pipeline!"
OMV boss Rainer Seele: "We will not put Nord Stream 2 on hold"
"We will not put Nord Stream 2 on hold," said OMV CEO and AHK President Rainer Seele at a press conference in Moscow this Wednesday. The background to the event was a survey by the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce Abroad (AHK) on the new US sanctions.
According to the AHK survey, 97 percent of German companies surveyed in Russia reject the new US sanctions law that President Donald Trump signed in August 2017. The energy sector in particular sees the American punitive measures as a threat to Russian business. European companies see, in particular, a threat to the planned Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline, which is to be co-financed by the Austrian OMV group.
Especially in difficult times, OMV will "be very committed to the project", explained CEO Seele. He expects German politics to have a “clear answer” to the US sanctions. What this answer might be is "difficult" to judge. In any case, the energy companies were not discouraged, he assured: "We’re going to build this pipeline!"
Gradual lifting of sanctions
If the situation in eastern Ukraine stabilized, a "partial reduction" of Western punitive measures against Russia would have to be initiated. The goal is the "gradual lifting of sanctions." By this, Seele meant a possible stabilization of the situation in eastern Ukraine through the start of a UN blue helmet mission.
The CEO described Nord Stream 2 as a "major European project." According to him, the new US sanctions create "new conflicts with serious consequences." This affects not only the energy sector, but also other areas such as agriculture and mechanical engineering.
Therefore, appeal to the German government and the EU Commission under the direction of Jean-Claude Juncker to implement "constructive steps for the entire European economy". Juncker also wanted the sanctions spiral to end.
Next is our translation from Russia of an article from Russkaya Gazeta.
Russian President promised a symmetric response to US sanctions
by Alexander Samozhnev
In the event of the imposition of new US sanctions Russia will act, President Vladimir Putin said at an annual major press conference in Moscow, commenting on reports that the US Congress was preparing a large package of anti-Russian sanctions.
The annual big press conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin
“Of course, this will affect the level of our interstate relations, of course,” the president pointed out. “We know their approach, which is that the United States will work with us where it is interesting and profitable, and at the same time will hold back Russia using decisions of this kind. But, knowing this too, we will act symmetrically, that’s all. "
“There is nothing good in this, these are absolutely unfriendly acts against Russia,” the Russian president believes.
At the same time, Russia is interested in developing and maintaining relations with the United States, regardless of who is in power in the White House, Vladimir Putin further noted. "Nevertheless, we are interested in developing and maintaining relations with the United States and will do this regardless of who is in the White House, who controls both houses of the US Congress," the head of state said.
Finally, the below text from an EU document details the remedy available not just to Germany but to the whole of Europe.
Blocking Statute: protecting EU operators, reinforcing European strategic autonomy
The Blocking Statute is an important achievement of unified EU action to protect EU operators, whether individuals or companies, from the extra-territorial application of third country laws.
The purpose of the European Union’s Blocking Statute (Council Regulation (EC) No 2271/96) is to protect EU operators from the extra-territorial application of third country laws. The European Union does not recognise the extra-territorial application of laws adopted by third countries and considers such effects to be contrary to international law. In 1996, the United States took such measures concerning Cuba, Iran and Libya. In response, the EU adopted the Blocking Statute It protects EU operators engaged in lawful international trade and/or movement of capital, as well as related commercial activities, against the effects of the extra-territorial legislation specified in its Annex. This annex currently consists of U.S. measures concerning Cuba and Iran.
The Blocking Statute protects EU operators, regardless of their size and field of activity, by:
nullifying the effect in the EU of any foreign court ruling based on the foreign laws listed in its Annex;
allowing EU operators to recover in court damages caused by the extra-territorial application of the specified foreign laws.
The Blocking Statute prohibits compliance by EU operators with any requirement or prohibition based on the specified foreign laws. EU operators whose economic and financial interests are affected by the extra-territorial application of those laws are obligated to inform the European Commission.
If EU operators consider that non-compliance with a requirement or prohibition based on the specified foreign laws would seriously damage their interests or the interests of the Union, they can apply to the Commission for an authorisation to comply with those laws. Such an authorisation may be granted by the Commission in specific and duly motivated circumstances, and as a derogation from the rule. A template is available to help EU operators prepare and submit the application.
A Guidance Note was published on 7 August 2018 to help EU operators with the implementation of the updated Blocking Statute.
Updated Blocking Statute in support of the Iran nuclear deal
Soon after its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the ‘Iran nuclear deal’, the United States announced that it would be re-imposing sanctions on Iran as from 7 August 2018. In reaction, the EU lost no time in updating the Blocking Statute in order to include in its annex the re-imposed extra-territorial U.S. sanctions, thereby mitigating the impact of these sanctions on EU operators doing legitimate business in and with Iran.
Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2018/1100 of 6 June 2018 entered into force on 7 August 2018.
This update forms part of the EU’s support to the continued, full and effective implementation of the JCPOA, including by sustaining legitimate trade and economic relations between the EU and Iran, which were normalised when nuclear-related sanctions were lifted as a result of the JCPOA.