Putin hits out at plans to block Nord Stream 2
The pipeline’s opponents are “chopping down the branch they’re sitting on,” the Russian leader said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had choice words for those who are working to delay the operation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, blaming them for obstructing a project that he says will be beneficial to all involved.
At a meeting with Russia’s State Council on Friday, Putin said that he agreed with Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of Russia’s ultra-nationalist LDPR party, who insisted that Western Europe “will go on to freeze” if the pipeline doesn’t begin working.
“Yes, I agree with your assessment,” the president commented. “And it’s also stupid for those who are delaying the system, because greater quantities of gas in the European market would surely lower the price of spot transactions.”
Putin claimed that many countries, such as Ukraine, who are dependent on spot markets, were digging their own grave when it came to gas supplies. “They don’t want to buy from us directly, but for them, the price would fall dramatically,” he said. “They’re just chopping down the branch they’re sitting on. It’s remarkable.”
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will bring gas from Siberia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, bypassing countries that currently receive high volumes of transit, including Ukraine and Poland. The project was completed in September, but it has not yet begun operating due to a series of regulatory hurdles. Its construction was carried out in the face of strong opposition from Kiev and Washington, and Ukrainian officials have taken credit for blocking the pipeline’s certification to date.
Earlier this month, German regulators announced that Nord Stream 2 could not be officially approved until at least mid-2022. Despite Ukraine’s pledges to oppose the pipeline, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has insisted that the delay is not political. This week, Berlin’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who had previously advocated against Nord Stream 2, announced that she and Scholz had come to an agreement that the certification process should continue “on the basis of European law.”
As gas prices soared in Europe this week, sparking concerns over a potential energy crisis, some Western leaders blamed Moscow for purposefully choking supplies as a means of pressuring Germany to approve Nord Stream 2. On Wednesday, however, Bloomberg reported that energy industry insiders had said that halts in shipments were due to Russian energy firm Gazprom having already fulfilled its contractual obligations for 2021.