One of the first substantive reactions to the Russian incursion into the eastern Ukraine is the status of the long controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
The German government has announced it is halting certification of Nord Stream 2 which will bring natural gas from under the Baltic Sea to Germany. The Russians appear to be dismissive of this action. Time will tell how it impacts the Russian economy and the availability of natural gas to European energy consumers.
Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 2.22.2022
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday that Germany has taken steps to halt the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.
Russian news agency Interfax cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that Moscow regrets Germany’s suspension of the Nord Stream 2 certification. Interfax quoted Peskov as saying that the Kremlin hoped the delay was temporary.
Russia’s former president and deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, said the decision would come at a cost to Europeans.
“Oh well. Welcome to a new world where Europeans will soon be paying 2000 euros per cubic meter of gas!” Medvedev tweeted.
Scholz told reporters in Berlin that his government was taking the measure in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Reinhard Bütikofer, a foreign policy expert with the Green Party and a member of the European Parliament, called the move a clear “turning point” in Germany’s relationship with Russia.
“I do still hope that other countries will take an example from the decision that Berlin has just taken,” he told DW. “Germany is now willing to effectively reduce our gas dependency on Russia, and that’s a momentous change,” Bütikofer said.
The White House has welcomed Scholz’s announcement and said it would be following up with measures of its own.
The German chancellor labeled Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the separatist territories in eastern Ukraine “unjustified and incomprehensible.”
“Now it is down to the international community to respond to this unilateral, unjustified and incomprehensible action taken by the Russian president. We need to coordinate our approach … in order to send a clear signal to Moscow that activities of this kind cannot remain without consequences.”
Construction of the pipeline project has been completed, but the project still needed regulatory certification from German authorities before the gas could be delivered.
The pipeline has been a source of contention with the US, which has expressed concern that it increases European dependence on Russia for its energy needs.
Earlier this month US President Joe Biden said there would be no chance of the project going ahead if Russian tanks and troops crossed the Ukraine border.
Nord Stream 2 would double the amount of gas flowing from Russia to Germany and would bypass Ukraine, owing to it running along the bed of the Baltic Sea.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the US had been in close consultation with Germany and welcomed the move.