Nord Stream 2: Germany halts approval of gas pipeline from Russia

Chancellor Olaf Scholz says the decision is in response to Russia’s actions against Ukraine

Kieran Guilbert
Tuesday 22 February 2022 18:27 GMT
Germany moves to suspend certification of Nord Stream 2 over Ukraine tensions

Germany has halted approval of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia after Vladimir Putin formally recognised the independence of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that the government had decided to "reassess" the certification of the pipeline, which has not begun operating yet, following Moscow’s actions late on Monday.

“Now it’s up to the international community to react to this one-sided, incomprehensible and unjustified action by the Russian president,” Mr Scholz told reporters in Berlin.

He said Russia’s actions marked a “serious break of international law” and that it was necessary to “send a clear signal to Moscow that such actions won’t remain without consequences”.

Mr Scholz said he had asked the economy ministry to take steps to make sure that certification could not take place at the moment.

“The appropriate departments of the economy ministry will make a new assessment of the security of our supply in light of what has changed in last few days,” he added. “That will certainly take time, if I may say so.”

The Kremlin said it regretted the decision and hoped the delay was temporary. Mr Putin said Russia “aims to continue uninterrupted supplies” of energy to the world.

Western nations on Tuesday started imposing sanctions on Moscow following Mr Putin’s decision to recognise the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk and order troops across the border to “maintain peace”.

Nord Stream 2 is a 745-mile pipeline stretching between Ust-Luga near western Russia’s border with Estonia and Greifswald in northeastern Germany, intended for the delivery of natural gas to central Europe via the Baltic Sea.

The decision on Nord Stream 2 is a significant one for Berlin, which had long resisted pulling the plug on the project despite pressure from the United States and some European countries who argue it increases Europe’s reliance on Russia’s energy supplies. The pipeline would double the amount of gas flowing from Russia to Germany.

Construction on the project was completed in September 2021 at a cost of £8.3bn but it has yet to receive the necessary European regulatory approval to permit its operator, Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom, to turn on the taps.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba praised Germany for suspending certification of the pipeline.“This is a morally, politically and practically correct step in the current circumstances,” he wrote on Twitter. “True leadership means tough decisions in difficult times. Germany’s move proves just that.”

Later on Tuesday, the European Commission said Europe’s energy supply would not be affected by Germany’s decision.

“Nord Stream 2 is not yet functioning, is not supplying energy to Europe. It’s not a different source of energy, it’s a different pipeline for an existing supplier... There’s no change in the current situation,” a Commission spokesperson told a regular press briefing.

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