The obsession of Ronald Reagan's team was to disrupt the construction of a gas pipeline from Yamal to Europe. The United States did its best to undermine Moscow's oil and gas revenues. However, the USSR took over in the 1981-1984 gas war.
Artery Urengoy - Europe
By extending two strings of the gas pipeline to Western Europe, Moscow could receive guaranteed $ 15–20 billion a year and tied European consumers to itself. The countries of Europe fell into a strong energy dependence on the USSR. Combined with the powerful groupings of the Soviet army in Poland, East Germany and Czechoslovakia, which loomed over Bonn, Paris, Brussels and Rome, this was dangerous for the West. Moscow also received a new stream of hard currency, which in theory allowed the USSR to carry out modernization, making a new decisive breakthrough in the country's development.
Moscow made the decision to build the Urengoy - Pomary - Uzhgorod gas pipeline (Yamal - Middle Volga region - Western Ukraine) in the late 1970s. Europe (then the European Economic Community) was made an offer: you help us build a pipeline by providing loans and technologies, and we guarantee natural gas supplies for a quarter of a century ahead at fixed prices. In essence, this was a continuation of the gas-pipes deal of the century - a 1970 long-term agreement between the USSR and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) on the supply of large-diameter pipes and other equipment to the USSR for the construction of a gas pipeline to Western Europe with payment for the supplied pipes and equipment gas from fields in Western Siberia. The first Soviet gas came to Germany in 1973. In 1975-1979. the Soyuz gas pipeline was built (or Orenburg - the Western border of the USSR). It passed through the territory of Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
The Europeans happily agreed and promised loans at reduced rates. In 1981, German banks provided a loan of 3,4 billion marks. Then loan agreements were signed with French and Japanese banks. The deal was beneficial for Europe. The Europeans received a new channel for the supply of hydrocarbons, independent of the Arabs, who are inclined to blackmail with higher prices. Moscow also won. The union could have built the pipeline itself, but preferred to take advantageous loans. Yuri Batalin, who was then First Deputy Minister of Construction of Oil and Gas Industry Enterprises of the USSR, noted that it was possible to agree on a gas price of $ 146 per thousand cubic meters. We also entered into another beneficial agreement: the Europeans built modern gas pumping (compressor) stations for us with a capacity of 25 thousand kilowatts, supplied them with turbines and the latest controls.
"Russians are coming!"
This prospect has caused great irritation in Washington. America struggled to undermine the position of the USSR, and the Europeans, it turns out, helped the Russians? The CIA prepared an analytical note in which it was noted that the USSR was able to put West Berlin, Bavaria and Austria in almost one hundred percent dependence on its gas. And all of Western Europe fell into 60 percent energy dependence on Russia.
In May 1981, the head of the CIA, William Casey, and the head of the Pentagon, Kaspar Weinberger, held a meeting at which the topic of the Russian gas pipeline was also raised. The Americans noted that this project must be disrupted, otherwise the Russians will receive a huge strategic advantage and provide a large influx of funds. We need to torpedo the energy project. Secretary of State Alexander Haig sent his deputy for economic affairs, Meyer Raschnish, on a tour of Western Europe. He offered the Europeans various alternatives that were stupid and disadvantageous to Western Europe. Like, instead of Russian gas, America will fill up Europe with coal. You can produce synthetic fuel from coal, as Nazi Germany did during the Second World War. Use Norwegian gas. However, these alternatives were so expensive and unrealistic that American ideas were abandoned in Western European capitals.
In the US, other ideas began to be worked out. For example, stretch a gas pipeline from Algeria or from Iran through Turkey and Greece. In parallel, the Reagan administration imposes a ban on the supply of high-tech American equipment to the USSR and begins to put pressure on Europeans. But Europe stubbornly refused to give up Russian gas. Even after the introduction of martial law in Poland and the emergency government of General Jaruzelski. Neither the Germans, nor the French, nor the Italians wanted to quarrel with the powerful Union.
Europe vs USA
The American administration has launched a campaign in financial circles. They tried to convince bankers not to give loans to Moscow at low interest rates. At first, things went wrong. Many financiers believed that the USSR ensures order and stability, therefore investments in the Union are profitable, there will be no default. For example, the French considered Russia a reliable economic partner and gave loans to Russians on very favorable terms - at 7,8% per annum, although at that time Western borrowers were given loans at no less than 17%. An attempt to create difficulties by not providing loans to Hungary, the German Democratic Republic and Romania also failed. The union helped these countries to pay off old debts.
The Europeans stubbornly refused to support the US gas war against the USSR. In general, they could be understood. They were good at counting. The project was very economically profitable for the countries of Western Europe. Western European countries at that time were on the verge of a crisis. In England, unemployment reached 14%, France and Germany were catching up with it. The gas pipeline created thousands of jobs, loaded the industry with orders. Gas from Russia strengthened energy security.
In January 1982, a meeting of the International Committee of COCOM - the Commission for Limiting the Export of High Technologies to the USSR - took place. The Americans suggested considering especially all contracts with the USSR and its allies if they exceed $ 100 million. The US wanted to get the right to block any deal between European companies and Russians. Especially those deals that were related to energy projects. France and England eventually agreed to cede to the Americans, but the FRG refused (the Germans had the greatest benefit from the agreements with Moscow). Then the NATO summit took place. Washington again raised the issue of Europe's abandonment of the Urengoy-Uzhgorod-Western Europe project. The Europeans offered a compromise. They say that the project will be continued, but within the framework of American sanctions. The Europeans will not conclude contracts with the Russians to replace those that the Americans canceled.
The Americans tried again to strike at the financial line, but failed. Then Washington decided to concentrate efforts on the technological direction. The Americans decided that they would be able to disrupt the construction of the energy main if they introduced a ban on the export of turbine blades for gas pumping stations to the USSR. These parts were manufactured by General Electric, and they terminated the contract with the Russians. Then Moscow signed a contract with the French, who produced this part under an American license.
In the summer of 1982, the Americans proposed a new plan in France. Let the gas pipeline be built, but not from two lines, but from one. And on condition that the credit line to Moscow will be closed. Let the Russians build the highway at their own expense. Plus restrictions on technology exports to Russia. But Paris and Bonn again opposed the United States. Moreover, the French signed another loan agreement with Moscow. Then a meeting of Western leaders took place in the West German capital. Reagan again tried to convince NATO allies to abandon the Russian gas pipeline. Failure again!
Gas battle for Europe
The failure in Europe angered Reagan. America could not cope with the impending economic crisis in any way. The dollar was wobbling. Moscow, playing on the contradictions between the United States and Europe, advanced. Her foreign exchange earnings soon doubled. Then Reagan, with the support of the power bloc, decided to strengthen sanctions. Secretary of State Haig was against, did not want to irritate the allies, he was not listened to and was soon dismissed. The sanctions now extended to US licenses and overseas subsidies. That is, now the Europeans also fell under the sanctions.
The news of the expansion of the sanctions sparked an outcry in Western Europe. Even the head of Britain, Margaret Thatcher, who was the most reliable ally of the United States, expressed her dissatisfaction. Reagan's actions were considered an unheard-of challenge to the laws of the market. London and Paris have suggested that their companies ignore US sanctions, since US laws are not valid in Europe. The Western world is in a serious crisis.
Then the Americans struck a new blow. The United States announced that European firms violating the embargo would lose access to the American market. And that was already serious. In October 1982, US-European summit talks were held in Canada. However, even there, the Europeans resisted, not wanting to restrict loans to the USSR and put technology exports under control.
In November 1982, Reagan was forced to announce the lifting of the embargo on the supply of oil and gas equipment to the USSR. The Europeans made reciprocal concessions. They agreed not to sign new agreements with Moscow that accepted conditions for new gas purchases. At this time, the West had to find new sources of energy. Only one string of the pipeline was being built, and the Russians could control no more than a third of the energy market in Western Europe. Europe also strengthened control over the transfer of important technologies to Russia.
The Americans believed they were victorious. That Moscow will spend about $ 1 billion above the plan to complete the project. That the Russians cannot replace pipeline controls, gas taps, gas turbines and other "military-strategic" products. Soviet industry will not be able to independently produce equipment for pumping gas. However, the United States was defeated in this Cold War battle. They were unable to disrupt the construction of the Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod gas pipeline.
Moscow had to agree to build not two lines to Europe, but one. American sanctions have become an incentive for the development of domestic industry. At the Nevsky plant in 1982-1985. launched the production of their gas pumping stations with a capacity of 16 thousand, and then 25 thousand kilowatts. The most important role in this was played by engine builders from the Kuznetsov Design Bureau in Kuibyshev (Samara). On the other hand, Italy sabotaged US pressure by supplying compressors. As a result, out of 40 stations on the Siberia - Europe route, 24 were Soviet-made, and 16 were Italian.
Soviet technocrats and the military-industrial complex successfully repelled an American attack with the aim of undermining the economy of the Soviet Union. The main organizer of this breakthrough was Yuri Batalin.
A target program was adopted, advanced methods of work organization were applied. According to Batalin, the great construction site has incorporated the most advanced construction and welding technologies. The country has saved about 5 billion rubles (the same billion dollars) due to innovations in construction. The track was built by special "labor detachments". They built 19 km of the highway per month against 7,2 km according to the old standards.
American opposition made the Russian builders especially angry. Now ours were pulling the track to annoy the enemy. By July 1983, all 4451 km were completely ready. In September 1983, gas was supplied to Poland and the GDR. The West Europeans were not ready for such a speed of the Russians; they expected the Union to complete construction in April 1984. Then you still need to test the pipe, fill it with gas. The Russians went their own way: completing each section of the highway, they immediately tested it and filled it with "blue fuel". Austria and France began taking gas in early 1984.
In 1985, the USSR surpassed the United States by one and a half times in natural gas production. This is how Soviet technocrats and industrialists won an important victory in the Cold War with the United States. They thwarted the plans of the Reagan Cabinet to ruin and collapse the USSR. They were able to ensure the expansion of Soviet gas to Europe, tying the Europeans to themselves. The country received an influx of large funds. At this time, Moscow received an excellent opportunity to use the new income wisely and sensibly. Invest them not in African "partners", but in the creation of new and breakthrough technologies, in advanced industries, in additional funding for science and education. In the modernization of the Soviet Union, to breathe new life into the society of knowledge, service and creation, the core of which was created under Stalin.
This made it possible to win the third world war (in the cold war), to wait for the crisis and agony of the United States, which were already brewing. Create a civilization of the future, a model for all mankind.
However, all these opportunities were buried by Gorbachev and his team. From the very first days of his reign, he began to perform monstrous experiments, terribly ruinous for the economy of the Soviet Union. He handed over all the positions of Russia in Europe and in the world, gained by hard work, sweat and blood.
Then the Urengoy - Pomary - Uzhgorod gas pipeline, built by Soviet technocrats and builders, became a "pipe", a "gold mine" for the rulers of Moscow and Kiev. "Trumpet", like other gifts from the USSR, nurtured the anti-Russian, thieves and Nazi regime in Kiev. Moscow, when Kiev became openly hostile, obeying the masters from Brussels, London and Washington, tried to rectify the situation with the help of the South, Turkish and North Streams.
The problem is that the "pipe" can no longer save Russia.
Today we need to rely exclusively on the development of domestic industry, technology, science, education and culture. Otherwise, we will face a shameful and disgusting extinction. And the once great civilization is in danger of becoming a colonial periphery of the West and East.
Soviet economic and statesman Yuri Petrovich Batalin (1927-2013)