The undersea pipeline project, known as Nord Stream 2, intended to carry natural gas directly from Russia to northern Germany is controlled by a subsidiary of Russian state-owned Gazprom. Previously, Germany has been hesitant to impose sanctions that would have an impact on Nord Stream 2.
Nord Stream 2 certification suspended by Germany
However, Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz stated at a press conference on Tuesday that:
“The situation today is fundamentally different and therefore, in light of recent events, we must also reassess this situation … also with regard to Nord Stream 2.”
He also added that he had requested the German Ministry of Economy to withdraw a binding opinion it issued in October last year that stated the pipeline posed no security-of-supply concerns.
“That sounds technical, but it is the necessary administrative step so there can be no certification of the pipeline and without this certification, Nord Stream 2 cannot begin operating.”
After that, the ministry of economy announced it was discontinuing the certification procedure.
It was a surprising move from Scholz, who has avoided even referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline by name in recent days. On Monday night, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into the self-proclaimed “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, after which Scholz responded.
Ukraine has long referred to the €10 billion ($11.32 billion) project, which was finished in September but hasn’t yet started operating, as a threat to its national security. Ukraine raised concerns that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would allow Russia to shut off gas transport via existing land pipelines, costing the country hundreds of millions in transit fees.
The decision was welcomed by Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba:
“This is a morally, politically, and practically correct step in the current circumstances, true leadership means tough decisions in difficult times. Germany’s move proves just that.”
Chancellor Scholz said at a press conference with Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin, that Russia’s decision to recognize the separatist regions in Ukraine as independent was “a serious breach of international law.”
He also added that the economy ministry, led by the Greens, which have a more aggressive attitude toward Moscow, would prepare a new supply security assessment based on recent events.
The decision was also praised by the spokesperson for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson:
“It’s certainly it’s something we’ve said both in conversations and publicly repeatedly. Being dependent on Russian hydrocarbons in this way is not beneficial to Europe.”
Russia on Nord Stream 2’s pause
Europeans are increasingly concerned about the cost of power. The move comes as Europe is dealing with record-high energy bills, which is largely due to the gas shortages. The continent is heavily reliant on Russian gas, which accounted for more than 42% of EU imports via pipelines last year.
Dmitry Medvedev, who is now the deputy chair of Russia’s security council, responded to Scholz’s decision by stating that the EU is dependent on Russia:
“Welcome to the brave new world where Europeans are very soon going to pay €2.000 for 1.000 cubic meters of natural gas!”
Putin stated that he had no desire to reduce exports to Europe before Scholz’s statement. Also after the recent developments, no Nord Stream 2 spokesperson commented on the matter.
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the second-largest country in Europe by size, after Russia, which borders to the east and northeast. The current population of Ukraine is 43,301,680 as of Thursday, February 24, 2022.
Russia-Ukraine conflict summary
The conflict began in February 2014, when Russia and pro-Russian forces attacked Ukraine, primarily over the status of Crimea and parts of the Donbas. The war’s major focus has been on the status of Crimea and other disputed territories that are widely regarded as part of Ukraine by international law.
Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s border has exacerbated tensions between the two countries and strained bilateral ties during 2021-22, with the United States delivering a strong message that an invasion would be met with severe consequences for Russia’s economy.
“I believe it is necessary to take a long-overdue decision, to immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic”
– Vladimir Putin
Analysts believe that this could be the start of a larger conflict in Ukraine, and many officials are labeling the action an assault on Ukraine’s independence.