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Is the German embassy in Washington, D.C. lobbying for Russia’s energy and foreign
In March of this year, Emily Haber, the German ambassador to the US, wrote controversial letters to several Members of Congress. Over two pages, the German top diplomat opposes the tightening of the American sanctions policy against Russia. She asks the Senators addressed in the letter to stop threatening two Russian ventures in Germany with further sanctions.
The letter, in which Haber seems to speak for the German government, says: “We are concerned that Congress is currently considering imposing additional energy sanctions on Russia.” These sanctions could “affect Europe’s energy security”. Germany’s and Europe’s prosperity require “both LNG (liquid gas, ed.) and Russian pipeline gas”, she writes.
Haber emphasizes that Germany wants to have a say before new sanctions are imposed on Russia: “Our countries should liaise closely when it comes to designing energy sanctions that may be imposed on Russia”.
Haber is against NOVATEK sanctions
The letter further says: “I am also worried by reports that the planned LNG terminal in Rostock could be captured by DASKA sanctions due to a minority stake being held by the Russian firm NOVATEK.” In addition to the North Sea harbours of Brunsbüttel, Wilhelmshaven, and Stade, a LNG/liquid gas terminal is currently being built in Rostock and is scheduled to start operating in 2022. In the letter to the US Senators, Haber explains that sanctioning the Russian gas companyNOVATEK – which is involved in building this terminal – could “impair the acceptance of LNG imports in Germany and significantly impede the development of LNG import capacity”.
This is a clear threat against the US, which is highly interested in LNG terminals being installed in Germany – because of future US exports to Germany.
Nord Steam 2 sanctions would “undermine the European
According to the letter, the European compromise on the application of EU gas directives for pipelines from third countries such as Russia have resulted in a “common European position” on Nord Steam 2 – as demanded by the US. Haber writes: “This has now been achieved.” She then argues emphatically: “Any additional steps taken by the US against the project would be counterproductive and undermine the European agreement reached on this difficult issue involving energy security policy.”However, has the gas directive agreement on the European level really resulted in a common European position concerning the highly controversial Gazprom project?
Darius Semaska, ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania, told BILD: “Even after the compromise on the European gas directive, our position hasn’t changed. The Lithuanian government is against Nord Steam 2, because we do not think that it is in Europe’s interest.”
The ambassador of Latvia in Germany, Inga Skujina, also emphasized to BILD that her country continues to reject Nord Stream 2. “Latvia’s internationally well-known position vis-à-vis Nord Stream 2, which the Latvian President, the Prime Minister, and the defense and foreign ministers have addressed at their meetings with the highest officials in Germany in recent months, has not changed“, said Skujina to BILD.
Several diplomats from central-European EU countries told BILD likewise.
US diplomats: letters are worse than Grenell letter
A US Congress staff member told BILD that people are “shocked” by the German ambassador’s letter, which “unambiguously sides with Russia”.
Moreover, one US diplomat told BILD: “Imagine if US ambassador Richard Grenell were to write letters to German governors asking them to use their influence on the Federal Government to get it to tighten its position on Russia.”
Haber’s actions have an “entirely new quality”, the diplomat said, because – in contrast to Grenell – she did not explain Germany’s policy, but asked Members of Congress to support a change in the US policy against Russia.
BILD asked the German foreign office whether it’s the government’s position to oppose third-party sanctions on Russia and whether it’s normal for a German ambassador to defend this position so aggressively.
The foreign office replied that the German government is in “continuous and close contact with the US, also with respect to the issue of sanctions. Concerning the sanctions that have been in place since the annexation of Crimea, in violation of international law, the European Union and the US have always coordinated closely. We support ensuring that potential measures of the United States will still be
closely coordinated with the EU in the future, so that sanctions can have their desired effects.”