A fierce critic of U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell who is campaigning to have him expelled from Germany has “possible links to lobbying on behalf of Russia’s controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline,” according to The Guardian newspaper.
Wolfgang Kubicki, the deputy chairman of the left-leaning Free Democrats Party, has asked that Grenell be declared persona non grata.
Grenell’s offense? He urged Germany to live up to its NATO pledge to ramp up defense spending, and warned that German companies collaborating on the Russian-controlled pipeline “are taking part in something that could prompt a significant risk of sanctions.”
Kubicki responded by urging that the German government to rebuke Grenell.
“Any U.S. diplomat who acts like a high commissioners of an occupying power must learn that our tolerance also knows its limits,” Kubicki said, according to Deutsche Welle.
The Trump administration has been outspoken over its concerns the Russian pipeline deal will make Europe more dependent on Russian energy.
American Foreign Policy Council senior fellow Stephen Blank recently called it a “deal with the devil,” warning the pipeline will pour billions into Russian coffers that Vladimir Putin will use “to subvert, corrupt, or even overthrow governments.”
The Guardian’s November 2017 article revealed an apparent connection between Kubicki and an email “aggressively promoting the advantages of Nord Stream 2.”
According to the Guardian, that email sent to energy analysts and think tanks throughout Europe was authored by Frank Elbe, a former German diplomat. The pro-pipeline email stated that it was fashioned “in collaboration with Kubicki & Scholer.”
Kubicki & Scholer is the law firm where Kubicki was a founding partner. The Guardian reports the law firm has denied it had any client involved in “the building of Nord Stream 2.”
The Guardian added: “Kubicki is already under fire for representing Hanno Berger, a former tax inspector who stands accused of engineering the biggest tax fraud scandal in German postwar history, using legal loopholes to siphon up to $30 billion euros out of the state’s coffers.”
Timo Lange of the LobbyControl watchdog group told the Guardian that “Elbe seems to be lobbying on Nord Stream 2’s behalf, and he has close ties to Kubicki through his law firm.”
Blank warned revenues from the Gazprom deal “may result in the rearming of the Russian army, which threatens the sovereignty and integrity of EU and NATO members.”
Earlier this week, Germany revealed it has no intention of fulfilling its promise to spend 1.5 percent of its GDP on defense as previously promised -- and even that amount is well below the NATO goal of 2 percent.
Germany’s latest budget proposal would increase its military spending from 1.3 percent in 2019 to 1.37 percent by 2020, after which it would plummet to 1.25 percent by 2023. The United States spends about 3.1 percent annually on defense, much of which is invested in defending Europe.
When National Security Adviser John Bolton was asked last summer on CBS’s Face the Nation about NATO threats, he remarked: “The president wants a strong NATO. If you think Russia is a threat, ask yourself this question: Why is Germany spending less than1.2 percent of its GNP?
“So, when people talk about undermining the NATO alliance, you should look at those who are carrying out steps that make NATO less effective militarily.”
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