German minister explains Nord Stream 2 regrets
The Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project may be scrapped before it even goes online and should have not been built in the first place, Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck told the Tagesthemen TV program on Tuesday.
Habeck was commenting on Berlin’s move to punish Russia for the recognition of the two breakaway Donbass republics as sovereign states. Nord Stream 2 had been in the crosshairs of both Kiev and Washington long before the ongoing escalation of tensions over Ukraine, and, on Tuesday, Germany suspended its certification. Consecutive US administrations have sought to put a stop to the project, claiming it to be political rather than economic in nature.
The minister, a member of the fossils-skeptic pro-NATO Green Party, argued that the latest events had proven the US assertion to be correct. He said the EU’s response to the situation should be coordinated with that of the US.
It is “of central importance that Europe and the USA proceed as one,” Habeck said, adding that neither side should “undercut sanctions” against Russia.
The underwater pipeline should not have been built in the first place, he opined. He described it as a “cluster of risk under the Baltic Sea” that stands in the way of Germany’s drive to diversify its energy sources.
Nord Stream 2 boosted Russia’s capacity to deliver natural gas direct to Germany, circumventing the land routes that pass through countries such as Ukraine. Kiev, which receives billions of dollars annually in transit fees, claimed that Russia and Germany were undermining its national security with the new route.
The US, which has become a major producer of liquefied natural gas thanks to its use of fracking technology, is seeking to secure a greater share of the Western European market for its product. Its economic interest is mixed with geopolitical goals. Mark W. Menezes, a Trump administration energy official, famously called the US fuel “molecules of freedom” as he pressured Germany to scrap the Russian pipeline in 2019.
Critics say Washington is using political coercion to sell its otherwise more expensive gas to Berlin. Commenting on Germany’s suspension of Nord Stream 2, Dmitry Medvedev, the chair of Russia’s National Security Council, predicted that Europeans would soon see their gas prices double.