The gas crane from the Nord Stream 2 to Europe remains closed as Russia escalates the tense situation in Ukraine. This threat from Annalena Baerbock, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs in Germany, to Moscow puts the prestigious gas project back into the spotlight. Because in the aftermath of her statements, the purchase price of gas rose by 10 percent.
The Nord Stream 2 has been a fissile fungus in the relationship between the US, Russia and Europe for years. Washington fears EU countries will become too dependent on Russian gas as soon as the pipeline is put into service. From Brussels, Moscow and Berlin, it is looked at differently, our correspondents explain in this article.
‘Russia wants to pass Ukraine ‘
“The Nord Stream 2 is mainly used as a geopolitical tool,” says EU correspondent Kysia Hekster. “Formally, it‘s only about gas, but Moscow wants to pass Ukraine with the project.” The new gas pipeline runs directly by sea to Germany, in contrast to the large gas pipeline running through Ukrainian territory towards the EU.
The construction of the Nord Stream 2 has recently been completed, but the German authorities have not given the green light for use yet. The project would not yet comply with European laws and regulations.
This series of graphics, which Ceit created 3 two years ago, explains the controversial gas project:
The question is how quickly the Nord Stream 2 can be put into use and how much hurry Europe is having with it. In the EU, a company that produces gas cannot transport it at the same time. Gazprom is the only one to supply the gas because it has a monopoly on exports in Russia.
So the European Commission also has yet to give permission. This will be discussed at a European summit this Thursday. Hekster: “The Nord Stream 2 also divides internally. For example, the Baltic states and Poland are more on the line of the Americans. The Netherlands and Germany see it more as a commercial instrument.”
New government in Berlin
But the recent government change in Germany is putting the discussion back on focus. Former Chancellor Merkel (CDU) has long described the pipeline as a ‘private-economic ‘project.
“Overall, Merkel’s Nord Stream 2 policy is seen as an attempt to keep up with Russia and by now Biden‘s America,” says Germany correspondent Charlotte Waaijers. “But the CDU no longer rules, and FDP is critical of the project and the Annalena Baerbock Green Party has always been clearly opposed.”
Nevertheless, Baerbock’s statements do not directly indicate a change of course. After all, today, the minister referred to agreements made with Washington last summer on sanctions against Russia if it were to take “aggressive actions against Ukraine”.
For Russia, Europe is precisely the only possible customer of the gas that is extracted in Western Siberia, says Moscow correspondent Geert Groot Koerkamp. About 40% of the European gas demand is fulfilled by Russian gas.
Ukraine is still earning on Russian gas
“While Russia has invested billions in the Nord Stream 2, the question is whether that will ever be recouped,” says Koerkamp. According to him, Europe does not become more or less dependent on Russian gas when the project is put into use. What would change above all is the route that is taken to deliver the natural gas. Namely, without Ukrainian intervention, directly to Europe.
Koerkamp: “Ukraine is still earning well from transit of Russian gas. Maintaining the pipelines also results in a lot of employment there. Russia wants to turn off that crane to put Ukraine a heel. Ukraine is therefore pleased with the threat of sanctions against Russia by the United States.”