Zelensky comments on the U.S. position on Nord Stream 2 / Photo from UNIAN, by Viacheslav Ratynsky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says U.S. President Joe Biden is a Michael Jordan in politics, when commenting on a recent decision to waive sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG.

Zelensky announced this in an interview for Axios.

"You know, that reminds me of how Michael Jordan used to play. He is my favorite basketball player, no offence to other wonderful NBA players, who are indeed galore. Even Michael Jordan very often used to lure his opponent, sometimes by demonstrating pretend weakness or even signs of illness. He had a variety of secret tricks for making his opponent feel relaxed and for imposing his own tactics onto him, imposing the false sense of close victory. And then Jordan would change his tactics dramatically, and he would grab the victory at the very last minute. That was part of his tactics. Therefore I still believe after all, that Biden is a Jordan in politics," he said.

"I think that his final three-pointer is not in the net yet, and I would like to believe that this is all part of his tactics. If this is not the case, that will be a great pity, not only for me, but for the United States as well, I am sure. There will be a feeling that in these circumstances Russia will have a great chance to prevail over the United States," he added.

Read alsoEx-U.S. envoy for Ukraine responds to Nord Stream 2 lobbyism claims

Nord Stream 2: Background

  • The Nord Stream 2 project envisages the construction and operation of two gas pipeline branches with a total throughput capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. It should connect Russia's Ust-Lug and Germany's Greifswald.
  • This new pipeline bypassing Ukraine is to be built next to the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline. The construction of the pipeline was expected to be completed before the end of 2019. The pipeline will be 1,220 km long.
  • Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom is the founder of Nord Stream 2 AG.
  • The project is being financed by European companies – France's ENGIE, Austria's OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Germany's Uniper and Wintershall.
  • Ukraine stands against the construction of Nord Stream 2 as it will most likely lose its status of a gas transit country, while its potential revenue losses are estimated at US$3 billion annually. The project is also highly criticized by the U.S., Poland, and the Baltic States.
  • The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has already been completed by more than 90%.
  • The United States has imposed a series of sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and has repeatedly called on European allies and private companies to stop the related works.
  • On January 7, 2021, a fund was established in Germany to support the completion of the Nord Stream 2 project.
  • Eighteen companies have already refused to participate in the project or are planning to do so because of the sanctions.
  • On February 6, 2021, Nord Stream 2 AG announced it would continue laying the pipes as part of the project.
  • On March 14, 2021, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said that Europe did not need the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Despite this, Germany continues to insist on the completion of the project.
  • On March 19, 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 to immediately halt laying pipes, threatening new sanctions.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline a trap for all countries across Europe.
  • On April 20, 2021, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Ukraine should remain a transit country for Russian gas to Europe, despite Germany's decision to complete the construction of the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
  • On May 19, 2021, the U.S. Department of State announced they would waive sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG, which is responsible for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and its CEO Matthias Warnig. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it was "in the national interest" of the country to waive the sanctions.
  • On May 26, 2021, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba noted that Ukraine would fight for national interests in the Nord Stream 2 case until the very end.
  • On June 1, 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that after the launch of the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Russia would do everything possible not to renew the current contract for gas transit through Ukraine.
  • On June 4, 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the completion of the first string of Nord Stream 2.