German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned his Polish colleagues of the consequences of trying to ‘isolate’ Russia economically, suggesting that doing so only increases Moscow’s cooperation with Beijing and that this poses potential dangers to European security.
“Basically, I am of the opinion that we in Europe would be put in a difficult position if economic relations with Russia were no longer possible,” Maas said at a press conference with his Polish counterpart, Zbigniew Rau, during a visit to Warsaw on Thursday.
“This will only serve to drive Russia and China closer together,” the German diplomat added, suggesting that it would lead to the creation of the ‘world’s largest economic complex’.
“This is not only wrong, but also dangerous, including with regard to our security interests in Europe. That’s why we don’t think it’s the right strategy,” Maas said.
Maas’s comments come in the wake of a rebuke of German foreign and economic policy by Rau, who penned an article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung earlier this week arguing that the completion of the Nord Stream 2 would create a “great security deficit” on NATO’s eastern flank, and that Berlin doesn’t realize its “lack of responsibility” for the consequences of its cooperation with “Putin’s Russia.”
The United States spent years trying to scuttle the energy infrastructure pipeline, putting pressure on its allies, including Germany, and slapping Nord Stream 2 with two rounds of sanctions, prompting several firms engaged in its construction to pull out. The Biden administration reversed course on its predecessor’s sanctions policy in May, moving to waive restrictions against the pipeline's Switzerland-registered operator, but has since threatened new restrictions dependent on Russian ‘behaviour’.
The Nord Stream 2 is a joint oil and gas pipeline financed by Russian energy giant Gazprom, Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, France’s Engie, Austria’s OMV and the UK-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell.