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20 Jan, 2022 08:12

Germany drops new hint on Nord Stream 2

The pipeline may remain unregistered if Russia invades Ukraine
Germany drops new hint on Nord Stream 2

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz rejected a chance to rule out halting the certification process of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline on Tuesday, hinting that it might be a consideration in case of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

At a press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the German leader gave the strongest indication yet he would seriously consider stopping the project. In recent months, politicians in Washington, Brussels, and Kiev have suggested using Nord Stream 2 as a way to ensure that Russia does not consider invading Ukraine.

“Russia will have to pay a high price should there be a military intervention against Ukraine or in Ukraine,” Scholz said, responding directly to a question about whether an attack on Ukraine would mean “the political end” of the pipeline.

Nord Stream 2 is a system that directly connects Russia to Germany, making the gas transit process less reliant on third-party countries. The pipeline was completed in September but is yet to be certified.

Approval of the project, which could have come this month, was suspended in mid-November by the German Federal Network Agency over a regulatory issue regarding the operator’s lack of premises inside Germany.

The US and Ukraine have accused Nord Stream 2 of being a Russian political project rather than an economic endeavor, and Washington has claimed that it threatens Europe’s “energy security.” Now, with Russia being accused of preparing for war with Ukraine, the threat of sanctions on Nord Stream 2 are being used as a form of deterrence.

Scholz’s latest statement is a departure from previous comments made by other members of the government in Berlin. Last week, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht stated that political differences should have no bearing on the operation of the pipeline.

“We should not drag [Nord Stream 2] into this conflict,” she said. “We need to solve this conflict, and we need to solve it in talks – that’s the opportunity that we have at the moment, and we should use it rather than draw a link to projects that have no connection to it.”

Earlier this month, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland admitted that America is working alongside EU partners to stop certification of the pipeline.

“What we are doing now is working with the Germans, working with the EU to slow their consideration of the implementation of the pipeline,” she said. “This German Government has taken significant steps to do that, and they’ve also reconfirmed the agreement we had with the previous government with regard to what happens to Nord Stream 2 – namely, it’s suspended if Russia aggresses against Ukraine.”