Nord Stream 2 delay not political – Germany
The long delay in approval for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is not political, new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has claimed, despite attempts by the US and other nations to use the project as leverage against Russia.
Scholz, who has served as chancellor since December 8, appeared with French President Emmanuel Macron at a joint press conference in Brussels on Thursday night, where he insisted that the controversial pipeline is a beneficial, neutral endeavor, not a tool for pressuring Moscow politically.
“Nord Stream 2 is a project that has received private investment, and whose realization has progressed so far that the pipeline is already built,” he said.
Regulators are currently examining whether Nord Stream 2 is ready to operate accordance with European Union energy codes, Scholz reported, and he emphasized that the process could be lengthy and complicated. “The German authorities will decide this completely independent of politics,” he stated. “The process is moving along.”
The chancellor went on to address the future of Ukraine, which has fiercely opposed the construction of Nord Stream 2 and stands to lose billions of dollars in gas transit fees when the pipeline receives the green light. “A different question is what we can do to preserve Ukraine’s integrity. Germany feels a great responsibility for ensuring that Ukraine remains a gas-transit country,” Scholz said.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will bring Russian gas to Germany through the Baltic Sea, was completed in September, but has yet to begin operations due to a series of regulatory hurdles. This week, the German Federal Network Agency, the Bundesnetzagentur, revealed that it won’t make a decision on the project for at least another six months.
The pipeline’s construction was carried out despite strong opposition from the US, Poland, and Ukraine. In November, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba took credit for delaying the project’s approval, saying, “Nord Stream 2 should have been operating and earning money a long time ago, but the fact that it still does not work and we are fighting against it is the result of our common endeavors.”
On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters the US would do what it could to obstruct the operation of Nord Stream 2, “if Russia has renewed its aggression on Ukraine.”