Sanctions and Wariness

Congress has passed and sent to President Donald Trump a bill that increases sanctions against Russia, particularly its energy sector, and against Iran and northern Korea.  It also adds limits Trump’s ability (and State’s) to ratchet those sanctions up or down in real time in response to Russian—or Iranian or northern Korean—behavior, a fillip that adds a question to whether he’ll sign it (his veto likely would only delay the thing; the bill was passed with veto-proof majorities in both houses).

Germany is “wary” of those sanctions.

The German Committee on East European Economic Relations said US plans for tighter sanctions against Russia had the potential of harming EU firms with energy interests in their giant eastern neighbor.

It went as far as to say that the latest US move appeared designed to stimulate US energy exports to Europe.

Because nothing Evil United States does is good for anyone else.  It couldn’t possibly be that any offers to sell liquified natural gas, for instance, to Europe (a small target of our global market for LNG, and for oil) might be to free Europe—and Germany in particular—from Russian extortion.  It couldn’t possibly be, either, that our increasing exports of hydrocarbons—having as they do a depressing impact on the global price of energy—would be good for Germany or for Europe as a whole.

And this bit of nefariousness:

The committee said it expected German exports to Russia to grow by 20% this year…despite all the EU and US sanctions in place right now over Russia’s perceived role in the Ukraine and Syria conflicts.

And this threat from the German government:

[German Economics Minister Brigitte] Zypries warned against a trade war over this latest round of US sanctions against Russia, saying such a situation would be “very bad.”

Nice piece you got there.  Be too bad if something happened to it.

That’s OK, though.  We’re wary of German timidity in the face of Russian energy blackmail capability, or of their active collusion with Russia.  At least there is symmetry.

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