The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is "100% anti-Ukrainian,” Ukrainian Deputy Minister for Economy, Trade and Agriculture Taras Kachka said Thursday, but suggested Kyiv could live with the project as long as Brussels helps Ukraine integrate more deeply into EU gas markets.
"The core motivation for Russia is just to punish Ukraine," Kachka told POLITICO.
Ukraine's decision to sign off an Association Agreement with the European Union sparked Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and aggression in eastern Ukraine.
Read alsoPoland's PM hits back at German president over Nord Stream 2 remarksThe highly controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, running from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, would deprive Kyiv of hefty transit revenues. Germany has been supporting the nearly-finished project, setting it at odds with the U.S., Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltic states in a bitter geopolitical fight.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier's recent suggestion that the pipe should be greenlighted as part of Germany's historical debt to Russia over World War 2 sparked outrage both in Poland and Ukraine – countries which also endured bloodbaths during the war.
The project is under threat from the U.S., which has warned that companies involved in completing the final kilometers of Nord Stream 2 face the threat of sanctions.
Ukraine seeks to preserve at least some gas transit across its territory, while Germany has vowed gas flows will continue even if Nord Stream 2 is launched.
Kyiv is also pressing the EU to integrate it more deeply into Europe's gas market, where prices should be set at trading rates, rather than directly by Russia's Gazprom. Ukraine has also largely reformed its gas market to be in line with the Bloc's regulations.
"We believe that our adherence to EU rules for the gas market also creates a big business energy system and political solidarity in terms of Nord Stream 2," Kachka said, adding that one of Ukraine's priorities is to start integrating its gas and electricity market with that of the EU.
Speaking about Ukraine’s electricity market, he said: "Due to this volatility of the market last year and due to the fact that we are still physically connected to the electricity grid of Russia, we were forced to import a small quantity of electricity from the Russian Federation. And for us, this is a moment of embarrassment [because] integration with the EU is more preferable."
"That is why nobody considers Russia as a market that we need to depend on," the official stressed.
Ukraine has ceased gas purchases directly from Russia since 2015, relying on interconnectors with Central Europe.