Olaf Scholz: Germany Could Halt Nord Stream 2 if 'Russia Attacks Ukraine'

© REUTERS / Maxim ShemetovFILE PHOTO: The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe-rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe-rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.01.2022
The chancellor's comments come just a day after Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned that the West would take "appropriate measures" against the Russian-European gas infrastructure megaproject in the event of an escalation in Ukraine. Moscow has expressed hope that the $10.5 billion project will not be artificially delayed or politicised.
A Russian invasion of Ukraine would prompt Berlin to consider halting and sanctioning the Nord Stream pipeline, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said.

"It is clear that there will be a high price to pay and that everything will have to be discussed should there be a military intervention in Ukraine," Scholz said, speaking to reporters on Tuesday during a Q&A after his meeting with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

The chancellor pointed to the agreement between Germany and the US signed last July on a common approach to Nord Stream 2, including its guarantees to continue Ukraine's status as a transit nation for Russian gas deliveries headed for Europe.
Asked whether a hypothetical Russian invasion of Ukraine might lead to NATO military assistance to Kiev, Scholz warned that Moscow would be made to pay "serious" political, economic and financial consequences, but ruled out the delivery of arms on Berlin's part.
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Scholz said he expects Russia to reduce the number of troops it has on the border with Ukraine. He added that Russia wants "constructive and stable relations with Russia."

"We are not interested in long-term tensions, quite the contrary. But it is also important that everyone adheres to the principles that we have agreed on, and this means that Russia must adhere to the principles of the OSCE [the Organisation for Security Co-operation in Europe]," the chancellor said.

He added that Germany and France would continue to work with Russia through the Normandy format to achieve progress in finding a political settlement in the Ukraine conflict. "We are taking account of all levels - bilateral negotiations between the US and Russia, the Russia-NATO Council, the OSCE, the Normandy format. All of them must be used for us to achieve an improvement in the current situation," Scholz said.
Also Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, repeating the talking point mentioned by Western officials for months now about "100,000 Russian soldiers" being gathered "near Ukraine for no apparent reason."
"Therefore, since I took office, most of my talks have not been about how we can cooperate with Russia, how we can further deepen our cooperation, but about what measures we can take together as the EU, the G7 and NATO regarding the Russian situation if it were follow through on its threats with force," Baerbock said, without elaborating what "threats" she was talking about.
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No to Politicization

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that bringing Nord Stream 2 online would "constitute a significant contribution to ensuring the energy security of the entire European Union," and urged German and European regulators not to artificially delay or politicize the project's certification.
Nord Stream 2 was completed late last year and its twin pipelines were filled up with gas and made ready for operation, but Berlin temporarily suspended certification in November, saying the pipeline's Switzerland-based operator must first create a new legal entity in Germany. Gazprom expects certification to be completed in 2022, but not in the final months of winter and spring, when gas demand in the region is at its peak. When up and running, Nord Stream 2 will be able to bring up to 55 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe each year along twin pipelines running along the bottom of the Baltic Sea, doubling the capacity of the existing Nord Stream network.
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Ukraine Blame Game

Western countries led by the United States have accused Russia of escalating tensions over Ukraine by concentrating troops on the border with its western neighbour in possible preparations for an invasion. Moscow has dismissed these claims and charged the West with seeking to exacerbate tensions as a pretext to fresh sanctions and more NATO troops in countries ringing Russia.
On Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko accused NATO and the EU of violating the OSCE Charter for European Security adopted in 1999 by creating a sphere of influence, including via its recent efforts to incorporate Ukraine.
Russian, US, NATO and OSCE officials held three sets of talks last week on draft security treaties proposed by Moscow in mid-December aimed at squashing current tensions. Moscow is calling for legally-binding, in-writing commitments by both sides not to deploy troops, missile systems, aircraft and warships in areas where they may be seen as a threat to the other side, and asks the US and NATO to halt the Western alliance's eastern expansion, including to Ukraine. Russia is also calling on NATO not to build up troops and equipment in states which joined the alliance after it began its eastward crawl in the late 1990s. Bloc officials have already verbally rejected both of Moscow's requests. Russia has warned that it will have to establish a system of "counter-threats" should its security proposals fall through.
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