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Nord Stream 2 - The Elephant in the Room

Nord Stream 2 – The Elephant in the Room

Russia and Germany have consistently claimed that the Nord Stream 2 project is purely commercial, and that gas and politics do not belong together. The same is said by the company owned mainly by Russia’s Gazprom and German companies.

German politicians have long tried to downplay the leadership’s political importance, and last week, Germany’s defense minister said Nordstream 2 should not be involved in the ongoing conflict.

Germany key

Germany is essentially the key to whether or not Nord Stream 2 exists. When the new German chancellor, Olaf Schulz, met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday, he was asked about the gas pipeline. replied:

– Everything can be discussed if Russia invades Ukraine.

This is the first time he talks about the gas pipeline in connection with the Ukraine conflict.

His party, the Social Democratic Party, has long been a supporter of Nord Stream 2. Meanwhile, his coalition partner, the Greens, has a more critical stance on it.

The key to the conflict in Ukraine

But the project is closely related to Ukraine. On the day of Nord Stream 2’s launch, Gazprom would not have to ship its gas through Ukraine as it does today, thus avoiding paying transit fees to Ukraine.

At the same time, former German Chancellor Angela Merkel said gas should continue to flow through Ukraine even if Nord Stream 2 were to open, a position also held by Olaf Schulz.

gas as pressure

Russia wants to sell its gas to Europe – at least parts of it – it needs to buy Russian gas. At the same time, Russia is accused of doing what critics fear, using gas as leverage. That’s after gas prices rose in Europe this winter. It is still unclear if and when Nord Stream 2 will open at the same time as negotiations on Ukraine’s future are underway and winter is not over yet.

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US Sanctions and Policy Discussions – See the roundup of Nord Stream 2 rounds below.

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US Sanctions and Policy Discussions – See summary of the rounds on Nord Stream 2. Photo: SVT / Nord Stream 2