German Chancellor Angela Merkel says 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.
Addressing the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) via video link, she said Germany had always advocated for Ukraine to remain a transit country in the export of gas from Russia to the European Union. She stressed she knew the conflicting opinions regarding the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and the position of many member states.
Merkel said the European Union had developed a joint position on the certification of gas pipelines through amendments to the Directive on the internal energy market.
Read alsoGerman legislator urges halt to Nord Stream 2 over developments at Ukraine bordersAccording to Merkel, gas is not yet flowing through Nord Stream 2, and it will not be of better or worse quality than gas supplied via Ukraine. She recalled there was also gas delivered through Turkish territory. Merkel believes that, perhaps, this is about expanding the field of conflict within the framework of the Nord Stream 2 project and the question is how wide Germany's trade with Russia should be, including in the energy sector. She said Germany had decided in favor of construction.
The German chancellor also reiterated the fact that the EU had imposed sanctions against Russia over the imprisonment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea. She stressed the importance of pan-European sanctions position in the dialogue with Russia, and this stance, she believes, further strengthens the Bloc.
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 being laid next to the existing Nord Stream 1 pipe.
- The construction of the pipeline was expected to be completed before the end of 2019.
- The pipeline will be 1,220 km long. The project is being implemented by Russia's Gazprom in alliance with a number of European companies. 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 against 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 to lay the pipes under 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.