By: Ulviye FILIYEVA ERKEC
Nord Stream 2 is the second branch of the gas pipeline project, each longer than 1200 km and with a total capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year. These pipes pass through the exclusive economic zones and territorial waters of Russia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Germany. Nord Stream 2 is a project that will complete the capacity of the previously built Nord Stream gas pipeline. Nord Stream 2 has been under construction since 2012. In April 2017, Nord Stream 2 signed agreements with ENGIE, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper and Wintershall to finance the gas pipeline project while pipe laying started in September 2018. At the same time, throughout its implementation, the project faced serious pressure both internationally and in Germany.
The Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project, which is planned to increase the supply of Russian gas to Europe, especially Germany, has turned into a “geoeconomics war” of Russia and the USA in Europe. For instance, the United States opposed Nord Stream 2, claiming that the natural gas pipeline will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian energy resources. However, in reality, analysts believe that Washington is defending its economic interests in this regard, due to the US supply of liquefied natural gas to Europe.
Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on ships and companies involved in construction of the pipeline to prevent the project from being implemented. Notably, in December 2019, US President Donald Trump signed the country’s defence budget, which imposed restrictions on the gas pipeline. As a result, Swiss pipe-laying company Allseas withdrew from the project. In December 2020, the US Congress agreed to expand sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream projects.
Washington also expressed concern that the project would increase Russian influence in the region and bypass Ukraine, depriving the already fragile country of transit fee revenues.
Another country that opposes Nord Stream 2 is Ukraine. Experts say that Kiev, as the transit country for Russian gas to Europe fears that once the gas pipeline becomes operational, it will lose its de facto monopoly position it has held for decades. In fact, on July 12, the Press Secretary of the President of Ukraine, Serhiy Nikiforov, stated that during Vladimir Zelensky’s visit to Germany, he made contacts to stop the Nord Stream 2 project. But the result was a huge failure, even according to Ukrainian experts.
The issue was also brought up during the meeting between US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on July 15 in Washington. The parties discussed Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.
Regarding a dispute between Berlin and Washington over the fate of the Nord Stream 2 project, US President Joe Biden said that strategic friendship with Germany, “the engine of the EU”, was important to him.
In his meeting with Merkel, the US President once again expressed his concerns about the construction of the gas pipeline. He also took a stance that “Russia should not use energy as a weapon” in the context of Nord Stream 2.
The Office of the President of Ukraine believes that the results of the talks between US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, indicates that the US and Germany are aware of the attempts of the Russian government’s increased pressure on Ukraine. Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podolyak stated that there was no negative signal for Ukraine in this meeting.
It was also noted from the Presidential Office that any statements by the US and German presidents did not dispel the threat of Russia’s attempts to use natural gas as a political weapon in Europe. Biden stated that the sanctions against the participants in the Nord Stream 2 project do not make sense. He stressed that it is not appropriate to impose restrictions as the pipeline is almost complete. The American leader also noted that he expressed this point of view more than once. The head of state believes that it is much more logical to discuss whether the Russian Federation is trying to blackmail Ukraine.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the other hand, at a press conference after meeting with US President Joe Biden, said that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will not replace the Ukraine pipeline, but will complement it, and will defend the interests of Europe and Ukraine. According to Merkel, Germany and the USA have different views on Nord Stream 2, but they agree that Ukraine should play a certain role in the transit of gas from Russia. In addition, Merkel said, “Ukraine should remain a transit country for Russian gas and the European Union may need to take necessary measures if Russia violates its obligations.” he stated.
Mykhailo Podolyak, Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said, “Work continues at all levels to develop such actions and decisions between Kiev, Berlin, Brussels and Washington. We look forward to the visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the United States to embody such work at the highest level of Ukrainian-American relations.”.
According to the opinion of an expert in RIA Novosti, the realization of the project was finalized during the meeting between Merkel and Biden yesterday. In this case, Ukraine will become even more “poor”. At the same time, politicians note that there are still disagreements about Nord Stream 2. Biden reiterated his concerns about the construction of the pipeline, reminding that the US did not impose additional sanctions on the pipeline, as it was almost completed. Instead, the country has decided to focus on negotiations with Germany on the issue.