English version of Ambassador Hoekstra’s opinion piece on Nord Stream 2

December 19- This week De Telegraaf newspaper published an opinion piece by Ambassador Hoekstra about Nord Stream 2 entitled: “Don’t give the Russians power over your gas.” Below is the original English version.

Last week the United States Congress passed a bipartisan resolution asking our European allies to take a very important action:  reject the Nord Stream 2 project and support the imposition of sanctions against those building it.  Additionally, 45 experts, foreign policy officials again in a bipartisan manner, signed a letter urging President Trump to prepare new and immediate sanctions on Nord Stream 2.

The rationale is clear.  Russian actions against the West continue to escalate.  Now is not the time to provide Russia with a powerful new capability to control, influence, and potentially undermine the West.

Russia’s recent behavior reminds us why we must remain vigilant.  Efforts to gather all the facts surrounding the tragedy and attempts to get them to take responsibility for what happened to MH-17 have been blocked.  Russian agents recently attempted to hack into the OPCW.  And that’s just in the Netherlands.

Other Russian activities just strengthen the case against building Nord Stream.  Russian hostile actions against Ukraine continue to dangerously escalate.  It wages a disinformation campaign against Europe.  The Netherlands and EU have become so concerned by these activities that they are implementing expensive programs to combat these actions.

This project poses a direct threat to the security and stability of Ukraine.  It removes any motivation for Russia to engage good faith negotiations in regards to Ukraine – negotiations which would contribute to political stability in Ukraine and in the region.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  Russia continues to threaten its neighbors and attempts to destabilize Western governments in multiple additional ways.

Nord Stream 2 would give Putin a new tool to continue these nefarious actions.  Russia has already used energy as a lever to achieve its foreign policy objectives.  In 2009, Russia cut off energy supplies to Europe.  With Nord Stream 2 in place it would have an even more powerful “economic tool” to threaten European economies, and even their national security.  Nord Stream is a commercial project with major geo-political overtones.

In turbulent times in Washington, Democrats and Republicans are uniting to oppose Nord Stream 2.  The U.S. message is clear.  We oppose Nord Stream 2 because it represents a geostrategic threat to our closest friends and allies.  We are also clear in that we believe a collective response to Russian provocations comprised of strong countermeasures will be most effective.  Russia must reconsider its current aggressive and unacceptable behavior against the West.  The United States calls on our European friends to take decisive actions against Russia.  An effective next step would be to take meaningful action to stop Nord Stream 2.  From MH-17 to Ukraine, Russia must be held accountable for its actions.