Russia Warns Against Politicization of Nord Stream 2 as Germany Links Project to Ukraine Crisis
11:48 GMT 17.01.2022 (Updated: 13:07 GMT 17.01.2022)
Nord Stream 2, the joint Russian-European gas- and hydrogen-carrying pipeline running from Russia to northeastern Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea, was completed and made ready for operation late last year. The pipeline's certification is now being held up by German regulators, with Gazprom saying this process may drag on until spring.
The Russian side will comply with all required norms during the certification of Nord Stream 2, and hopes the process is not artificially delayed or politicised, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said.
"The commissioning of Nord Stream 2 will constitute a significant contribution to ensuring the energy security of the entire European Union. The procedure for its certification by German regulators and the European Commission should not be artificially delayed or politicised. It must be carried out in strict accordance with existing standards, which we intend to strictly comply with," the Ministry said in a statement released on its website on Monday.
The Ministry noted that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his German counterpart would discuss a broad range of issues at their meeting Tuesday. "There will be an in-depth exchange of views on the most pressing international problems, primarily the implementation of Russian proposals for comprehensive security guarantees in Europe," the statement said.
Earlier in the day, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned that the West would take "appropriate measures" against the gas infrastructure megaproject in the event of an escalation over Ukraine, and recalled that Berlin and Washington had adopted a joint statement on the matter last year.
"We as the new German government have stated clearly in the coalition agreement that energy projects must comply with German and European laws. This also applies to Nord Stream 2. Currently, this project does not fully comply with European law, so the certification process has been suspended," Baerbock said, speaking at a joint news conference with Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.
"In the event of continued escalation by Russia we and our partners will take appropriate measures," the foreign minister warned.
"No country has the right to dictate to other countries which direction they may take, which relationships they may have and which alliances they may enter into. Ukraine's sovereignty can never and will never be subject to negotiations," Baerbock said. "Each further aggressive act will have a high price for Russia, economically, strategically, politically," she added.
The Green Party politician did not elaborate on what these "aggressive acts" were. Moscow has repeatedly dismissed similar allegations, and accused the West of using the threat of the Russian bogeyman as an excuse to continue the buildup of NATO forces near Russia's western borders.
Baerbock's Greens have long opposed Nord Stream 2, and at the same time have confusingly accused Russia of "playing poker" with gas deliveries and deliberately reducing supplies amid soaring demand. Their coalition partners, the Social Democrats, have long expressed support for the project, and the former Christian Democratic Union-led government of Angela Merkel also favoured it as a means to ensuring Germany's energy security amid the industrial power's transition to clean energy sources.
Five Western European energy companies, including Germany's Uniper and Wintershall, Austria's OMV, France's Engie and Royal Dutch Shell, are partnered with Russia's Gazprom on Nord Stream 2. Construction of the $10.5 billion, 1,230 km pipeline began in 2018, and was on the brink of completion before the US slapped sanctions on the project in late 2019, prompting multiple Western contractors threatened with "crushing and potentially fatal" restrictions to pull out.
Russian pipelaying ships were deployed to complete the project in 2021, with the pipeline filled up with gas in December and made ready for operation, pending German and European regulatory approval. Berlin suspended the pipeline's certification in November, saying Nord Stream 2 AG - its Switzerland-based operator, must first create a legal entity in Germany. Gazprom has indicated that certification should be completed sometime this year.
The delay has dashed hopes among energy consumers faced with depleted national gas reserves and skyrocketing energy prices that Nord Stream 2 could help ease shortages during the current winter.
16 December 2021, 12:30 GMT
In a bit of good news for the project, the US Senate rejected
a bill proposed by Republican Senator Ted Cruz to slap new sanctions against Nord Stream 2 last week, with a majority of Democrats voting against the measure amid concerns that new restrictions might worsen relations with Berlin.