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Merkel Gives Ground on Nord Stream 2

Berlin has until now stressed the pipeline’s commercial advantages, but can no longer ignore the swelling chorus of discontent.

11 April 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured) has said Ukraine should be protected from the economic or political side effects of the Russian-built gas pipeline Berlin approved last month.

 

"A Nord Stream 2 project without clarity about the Ukrainian transit role is not possible," she said after talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Berlin yesterday, Deutsche Welle reports.

 

Ukraine, along with Poland and the Baltic states, strongly oppose the project to build a second Russia-Germany natural gas pipeline across the Baltic, saying it would deprive Ukraine of vital transit fees and increase Europe’s reliance on Russian energy.

 

Russian state-controlled Gazprom sold record amounts of gas to Germany and other European Union customers last year.

 

Merkel sought to reassure Poroshenko that Nord Stream 2 would not take Ukraine offstream as a key transit country for Russian gas deliveries to Europe.

 

“This isn’t only about an economic project. There are political factors to be considered,” Bloomberg quotes her as saying.

 

On Monday, Poroshenko told the German business newspaper Handelsblatt that Nord Stream 2 could enable an "economic and energy blockade" against Ukraine, DW writes.

 

But a spokesman for the pipeline said it would still leave plenty of Russian gas available for trans-shipment through Ukraine. Of the 170 billion cubic meters of gas Russia supplied to Europe in 2017, 90 billion went through Ukraine, Bloomberg cites spokesman Sebastian Sass as saying.

 

Berlin gave commercial approval to Nord Stream 2 last month. Five Western European companies will partner with Gazprom on the $10 billion pipeline, scheduled for completion in late 2019, DW reports in a separate story.

 

Members of Merkel’s coalition dismissed U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent criticism of Nord Stream 2 last week, when he said Germany should not be paying billions of dollars to Russia.

 

 

  • Then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder helped midwife the first Nord Stream pipeline in the early 2000s. He joined the Gazprom-controlled company as a director after leaving office and has retained close ties to Russia.

 

  • Ukraine is due to receive about $3 billion in gas transit fees this year and next, an executive with the state gas enterprise Naftogaz said yesterday, as reported by Interfax-Ukraine.

 

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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