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Germany Listens as Washington Thunders Against Russian Pipeline

Nord Stream 2 builders say project is on schedule, but will the gas find customers?

10 January 2019

German support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is wavering as politicians from both left and right begin to unpick its implications.


Vocal opposition by the Trump administration may also be playing a part, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government grows less committed to a project it has backed to the hilt, The Moscow Times writes.


Merkel has helped lead the Euro-American effort to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, but hopes for Russian-Ukrainian reconciliation have soured since the Kerch Strait incident, when Russia seized three Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov, said Christian Democratic Union lawmaker and foreign affairs specialist Juergen Hardt.


“The events on the Kerch Strait at least showed me that these are unfulfilled hopes,” Hardt told the Moscow paper. “Russia, in my view, isn’t moving a millimeter from its objectives.”


The pipeline is planned to double the quantity of Russian gas supplied to Europe, through a Baltic Sea pipeline paralleling the existing Nord Sea pipe. But the junior coalition partner Social Democrats’ foreign policy point man Nils Schmid (pictured) said the pipeline shouldn’t go forward until Russia and Ukraine renegotiate the transit fees Ukraine earns for pumping gas to the EU.


“The debate in Germany has become more critical. … It would have been better to take this political dimension into account,” Schmid said.


If pushed, Washington has ways to make its opposition to Nord Stream 2 crystal clear, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell told Handelsblatt in a recent interview.


Companies working on the pipeline “are always in danger, because sanctions are always possible,” Grenell said, adding that he was sure the companies would pull out of the project rather than accept them.


The $11 billion pipeline, a joint venture between Russia’s Gazprom and five European energy companies, has never sat comfortably with the European Union’s stated goal of reducing its heavy reliance on Russian gas.



  • Merkel acknowledged the wider ramifications of Nord Stream 2 last spring, when she said Ukraine should be protected from its economic or political side effects and insisted on clarity about Ukraine’s gas transit fees.


  • More than 400 kilometers of pipeline have been laid, Nord Stream 2 spokesman Jens Mueller told Sputnik this week, saying the company plans to finish the pipeline by the end of 2019.


  • U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Pete Hoekstra’s call on the Dutch government to pull out of the project brought a furious response from his Russian counterpart, Alexander Shulgin, who accused Washington of “promoting its own energy sources for the European market by slandering competitors” in a letter to Dutch daily Telegraaf, reports.


  • Hoekstra warned the pipeline will “provide Russia with a powerful new capability to control, influence and potentially undermine the West.”


  • “The Netherlands must decide for itself what is better for the country – cheap Russian gas or expensive American gas,” Shulgin rejoined.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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