On October 31st, US congressmen introduced a bipartisan resolution in support of the Three Seas Initiative (3SI), to counter reliance on Russian energy in Europe. [pdf]
The bipartisan bill was introduced by Democrat Marcy Kaptur and Republican Adam Kinzinger.
3SI is “a strategic partnership of twelve Central and Eastern European nations with the shared goal to foster energy autonomy and resilience through collective financing of new infrastructure projects, increasing connectivity between the Adriatic, Baltic, and Black Seas, and reducing their reliance on Russia for their energy needs.”
The members of the potential initiative include Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
“For years, Russia has undermined security in Europe by coercing European nations into reliance on Russia for their energy needs, including through the Nord Stream II and Turk Stream pipelines,” said Kaptur. “Thankfully, twelve of our close allies in Central and Eastern Europe have banded together to increase their energy autonomy through collective financing of energy infrastructure projects: The Three Sea’s Initiative. This resolution makes clear America’s strong support for the Initiative and it encourages the member nations to consider financing of clean energy projects as the world addresses dire climate change crises. Now that Danish authorities have approved the Nord Stream II pipeline, we must now act swiftly to boost the energy security of our European allies by passing this critical legislation as well as sanctioning the pipeline. I wish to thank my colleague, Representative Adam Kinzinger for his critical leadership, and efforts to strengthen the transatlantic relationship through this bill.”
“Russia has long used energy as a weapon to coerce and manipulate our European allies,” said Kinzinger. “As American energy production continues to rise, we have an opportunity to support our allies in Central and Eastern Europe with an alternative. The Three Seas Initiative will bolster energy independence and infrastructure security in the region, and further show U.S. support in the face of increased Russian and Chinese influence over these countries. I’m proud to introduce this resolution with my colleague, Representative Marcy Kaptur, and applaud her commitment to helping our allies with clean energy projects as we push back on the power grabs by Putin.”
The document states that support for the Three Seas Initiative should be provided in the energy sector. In particular, “to expand energy independence and infrastructural interconnectedness that contributes to strengthening the national security of the United States and Europe.”
In the text of the resolution, Kaptur notes that, due to the lack of infrastructure, the countries of the association are “too dependent” on Russian energy resources, while Russia is allegedly trying to undermine freedom and democracy in Europe, including using “hybrid methods, including the use of energy as a means of coercion.”
As an example of such coercion the draft resolution cites the Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream projects, which are “political” and are aimed at “undermining Europe’s energy security.”
It is worth noting that Russia has repeatedly denied the use of energy as a political tool, and also emphasized that gas pipelines are exclusively commercial projects.
“I emphasize again: these projects are implemented jointly with European companies and are exclusively commercial in nature. There is no political background,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin in early October.
In turn, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on the United States to stop politicizing Nord Stream 2. The ministry emphasized that the launch of the gas pipeline will contribute to strengthening the energy security of Europe.
Прекращайте попытки политизации чисто коммерческого проекта. Напоминаем, что основная задача совместного с европейскими партнерами «Северного потока-2»-диверсификация маршрутов поставок газа, ликвидация транзитных рисков и, тем самым, укрепление энергетической безопасности Европы
— МИД России 🇷🇺 (@MID_RF) October 7, 2019
“Stop trying to politicize a purely commercial project. We remind you that the main objective of the joint Nord Stream 2 partnership with European partners is to diversify gas supply routes, eliminate transit risks and thereby strengthen Europe’s energy security,” the Russian Foreign Ministry replied to the US State Department’s Twitter message stating that the goal “Nord Stream 2” – “drive a stake in the heart of Europe’s security and stability.”
The 3SI began back in 2016 and has since had four annual summits, with the first being in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Polish President Andrzej Duda called the initiative “a new concept to promote Europe’s unity and cohesion, it is an idea of cooperation among 12 countries located between the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas, the three seas of Central Europe.”
Guest speakers included Chinese Ministerial Assistant for Foreign Affairs Liu Haixing, who talked about the interconnectedness with the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative, and former US National Security Advisor, General James L. Jones, who stressed the initiative’s role in European development and security.
Which shows how the US is willing to even “allow” these countries to cooperate with China’s Belt and Road, only with the aim of “spiting” Russia. Or rather, the issue with dealing with the Belt and Road would come after Russia has been dealt with.
In early October 2019, Duda expressed his hope that “the US will join our great project.”
“I hope that the US will join our great Three Seas project,” he said and stated that this was the initiative of cooperation with the countries, which – being left behind the Iron Curtain – for decades shared Poland’s fate, were not totally free, and which could not develop after the World War Two like the other western countries could.
“We have been making up for all these things. We want to cooperate with each other in the best possible way,” he said, noting the importance of infrastructure projects for economic development. “If we get such roads as the Via Carpathia, Via Baltica, Rail Baltica and the others which are being planned, Poland will be able to develop even more dynamically,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kaptur also calls on the countries of the Three Seas Initiative to “expand the concept of strengthening regional infrastructural compatibility” to include non-EU states in the region. In particular, the resolution names Ukraine, Moldova, and also the countries of the Western Balkans.
Essentially, with Poland calling for the US to be part of the project, Washington’s premier proxy state in Europe is attempting to consolidate a sort of US-grip on the European liquefied natural gas market.
It is worth noting that earlier the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Jacek Chaputovych, noted that now it is impossible to accept Ukraine into the 3SI.
“I discussed the idea of cooperation with Ukraine. Ukrainian President Zelensky asked if it was possible for Ukraine to join the Three Seas Initiative. This is not possible at this stage, because membership is limited to EU countries,” Jacek said, noting that the situation with the Western Balkans is similar.
Of course, that is only a matter of time for this, too, to be warped into an anti-Russian hysteria project, primarily dictated by Washington’s policy.
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