German Chancellor Reportedly Mulls Pulling Support for Nord Stream 2 in Case of Russia-Ukraine War
15:09 GMT 10.12.2021 (Updated: 21:18 GMT 19.10.2022)
© Photo : Nord Stream 2 AGNord stream 2 route map
© Photo : Nord Stream 2 AG
Olaf Scholz took the reigns of the chancellorship from Angela Merkel on Wednesday, following the September elections and negotiations which allowed his Social Democrats, the Free liberal Democratic Party and the Greens form a coalition. The Social Democrats and their partners have expressed divergent views on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
The cabinet of the new Scholz government supports Nord Stream 2, but may halt the project in the event of hypothetical ‘Russian invasion of Ukraine’, the Financial Times reports, citing sources said to be familiar with the new government’s position.
Stopping Nord Stream 2 is said to be one of the options Germany and Western powers generally have if tensions in Ukraine escalate into a war.
Scholz’s Social Democrats have been broadly supportive of the $10.5 billion energy infrastructure megaproject, seeing it as a boon for German businesses and energy security as the Central European industrial powerhouse switches away from nuclear and coal power. However, current and former officials in Moscow cited by FT fear that Scholz’s Green Party coalition partners, who have long opposed the pipeline in the past, could throw a wrench in the works.
28 November 2021, 16:11 GMT
Nord Stream 2 is technically complete and ready to start pumping gas to Germany – from where it can be carried by pipelines further west and south. However, the pipeline first requires regulatory approval from German and European Union regulators.
The project’s completion was previously delayed by over a year after Washington threatened to slap sanctions on European companies involved in its construction, prompting a major Swiss pipelaying firm, insurers, suppliers and others to pull out. Russian energy giant Gazprom scrambled to complete the project, with the last weld finished in September, and one of its two lines filled with gas in October.
Nord Stream 2’s completion comes just in time to supply Western Europe with gas amid shortages and skyrocketing prices caused by lower-than-normal reserves in the region’s underground gas storage facilities. However, the necessity for regulatory approval has led to concerns that opponents of the project in Berlin or Brussels could stretch out the approval process to the spring of 2022 and the end of the heating season, meaning shortages and high prices will prevail.
German media have reported that is facing pressure on Nord Stream 2 from Berlin’s US allies. In a bid to improve German-US ties post-Trump, the Biden administration agreed in May not to impose new sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and its Switzerland-based operator, Nord Stream 2 AG. The agreement requires Berlin to slap restrictions on Russia and limits its energy exports “should Russia attempt to use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine.”
22 November 2021, 13:06 GMT
Western officials and media have stepped up claims in recent weeks that Russia may be preparing for a military invasion of Ukraine by concentrating troops on the border. Moscow has dismissed the allegations, and accused the West’s client government in Kiev of attempting to resolve the frozen civil conflict in eastern Ukraine by force.
The latest Western media reports about possible Russian 'invasion plans' began to circulate in November, when Politico published satellite photos purporting to show a concentration of Russian armoured forces "on the border with Ukraine," but actually showing vehicles and support equipment in Yelnya, in Smolensk region, about 250 km to the north of Ukraine, and over 800 km from the eastern Ukraine conflict zone. The reporting has since expanded to claims of the movement of tens or even hundreds of thousands of Russian troops near the border, and suggestions that Moscow might begin an assault in January.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian opposition politician Ilya Kiva warned that Kiev and its Western patrons may be preparing some kind of provocation against Russia at the end of next month, with a provocation "killing two birds with one stone" and allowing the West to impose new sanctions, while helping Kiev to "write off their failures, hunger and cold on the war."
Russia-Western relations deteriorated severely in early 2014, after ultranationalist and pro-western political forces in Ukraine overthrew the country’s democratically elected president in a coup. Authorities in the majority ethnic Russian region of Crimea organized a referendum which saw the peninsula break off from Ukraine and rejoin Russia. In the spring of 2014, Kiev moved military forces to the Donbass to attempt to crush local pro-independence forces organized in the aftermath of the coup. The US and the EU accused Russia of illegally “annexing” Crimea, and claimed that Russia either has troops in the eastern Ukrainian breakaways, or is supporting the region militarily. Moscow has dismissed the allegations.
17 November 2021, 14:35 GMT