Germany made Russian gas promise to US – McConnell
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised a group of US politicians that the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project will progress no further should Russia invade Ukraine, US Senator Mitch McConnell claimed on Tuesday.
Speaking on American cable network C-Span, the veteran Republican politician revealed that he had sat down with Scholz to discuss growing tensions between Moscow and the West, and possible measures that might be taken if a military incursion were to take place.
“The good news is that [Scholz] confirmed what [US President Joe] Biden said yesterday, that if the invasion occurs, Nord Stream 2 will not go forward,” the senator said. “The bad news is that this would be after an invasion.”
Nord Stream 2 is a natural gas pipeline that connects Russia to Germany without passing through any third country. Once operational, the infrastructure would make gas transit less reliant on third parties, thereby lowering the commodity’s price. It has yet to receive certification, however, leaving the pipeline idle.
However, it is now seen not only as a means of transporting gas but as a geopolitical instrument that the West can use as leverage over Russia. Without receiving a green light from Germany, Moscow will be unable to use the pipe to send gas to Europe.
The prospect of the pipeline never being turned on has now been suggested as a possible sanction and means of deterrence amid accusations that Russia may be preparing an attack on Ukraine.
Despite public statements from McConnell and Biden, however, Scholz himself has repeatedly refused to directly answer questions regarding the pipeline, and has noted that he is in favor of a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. Instead, he stated his country would “act in concert with other nations” regarding the future of Nord Stream 2, implying that he had privately agreed with Washington to stop the pipeline.
In comments made to German channel ARD, Scholz stressed that he, along with his US and EU allies, has made “very concrete preparations” to carry out a “tough joint response” if necessary. The discontinuation of the pipeline project could be imposed as part of the “very far-reaching, very tough sanctions” that the chancellor has promised, should the current perceived threat posed by Russia give way to real “military aggression.”
Despite the absence of any public announcement, it is likely that the White House will now hold Scholz to his private pledge to act in lockstep with Germany’s NATO allies.
Scholz’s reluctance to openly agree to put an end to Nord Stream 2 is likely due to the downside faced by Berlin, which helped to build the pipeline and needs the gas it would provide. The chancellor admitted as much during an interview with CNN, when he said that the country would be willing to take steps “that incur costs for [Germany].”