The US and Germany issued a joint statement on 21 July giving the go-ahead to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, now 99 percent complete, with Washington committing not to slap any more sanctions against it, and Berlin, its main European benefactor and beneficiary, vowing to negotiate an extension of the Russia-Ukraine gas transit agreement.
The only thing that could stop the construction of the almost-completed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is an all-out row between the US and key NATO ally Germany, believes a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament.
Nord Stream 2 aims to carry 55 billion cubic metres of gas a year across the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine, which is now especially concerned over the looming halt in transit payments.
Commenting on the failure of the anti-Nord Stream 2 pressure campaign, Oleg Voloshyn, a member of the Opposition Platform — For Life political party, suggested “the only real way” the megaproject could be derailed is if there was a “colossal rupture” of ties between Washington and Berlin.
“That is, the United States just needs to squabble with the Germans, impose sanctions against German companies, moreover, sanctions of an extraterritorial nature, because American interests are not directly affected: ‘we, the United States, do not like it, therefore we are punishing you,’” Voloshin said on Ukraine’s NewsOne channel.
The parliamentarian suggested that under such a scenario, however, US actions would have long-term consequences for international relations.
“Tomorrow you will not like what is being done on the territory of France, or Italy… This is pure piracy, to interfere in things that do not directly concern the United States,” the politician emphasized.
Nord Stream 2 99% Complete
Nord Stream 2 operator Nord Stream 2 AG earlier announced that the first of the project’s two lines was now finished, with construction on the second being wrapped up. Nord Stream 2 is set to be put into operation by the end of the year.
Doubling the capacity of the existing Nord Stream network, it will pump as much as 55 billion cubic metres of Russian gas to Central Europe annually along the bottom of the Baltic Sea.
The $10.5 billion project is being financed by the Russian energy giant Gazprom, Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, as well as France’s Engie, Austria’s OMV, and the UK-Dutch concern Royal Dutch Shell.
Since construction started in 2018, the US and its allies in Eastern Europe, especially Poland and Ukraine, have been actively opposing the construction of Nord Stream 2.
Washington targeted the project with rounds of sanctions, arguing that once operational, it would render Europe even more dependent on Russia’s energy resources while allegedly providing Moscow with a political leveraging tool.
The administration of US President Joe Biden eventually waived sanctions against Nord Stream 2, purportedly driven by the realisation that sanctions would not work and because it wanted to avoid rupturing ties with Berlin. In June, Secretary of State Antony Blinken weighed in on Washington’s decision, saying:
“As a practical matter, the physical completion of the pipeline was, I think a fait accompli,” Blinken said, when the administration decided to waive sanctions.”
In July, the US and Germany agreed to bring a formal end the transatlantic dispute over Nord Stream 2. Washington promised to suspend sanctions against the project, and Berlin committed itself to invest in Ukrainian energy and to facilitate the extension of the gas transit agreement between Kiev and Moscow for up to ten years. The current agreement expires in 2024.
Germany, in line with the deal, is also required to press for sanctions against Russia should Moscow opt to wield energy as “weapon” against European countries. Moscow has repeatedly emphasised that the 1,230 km energy mega-infrastructure project is purely an economic one.