Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday that Germany would stop certifying the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline linking his country with Russia, in one of the most aggressive moves by the West to punish the Kremlin for its recognition of the two countries. separatist regions in Ukraine.
The German leader’s statement came hours after Russian President Vladimir V. Putin sent armed forces to breakaway regions, known as the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.
Germany’s allies in Europe and the United States have been pressing Mr. Scholz for weeks to publicly announce that the $11 billion pipeline, is completed late last year and runs from Russia’s coast to northern Germany under the Baltic Sea, which would risk being blocked in the event of Russia’s move against Ukraine.
“The situation today is fundamentally different,” Mr. Scholz told reporters in Berlin. “That’s why we have to reassess this situation, according to the latest developments. That includes Nord Stream 2, by the way.”
The Ukrainian government welcomes Germany’s decision. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called it “A move that is morally, politically and practically correct in the current circumstances.”
Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said that Russia regrets the decision “because we have reiterated that this project has nothing to do with politics. And there shouldn’t be. It is a purely commercial, economic, mutually beneficial project, meant to be a stabilizing factor for the European gas market. ”
Since November, the amount of natural gas coming to Germany from Russia has dropped, causing prices to skyrocket and depleting reserves, causing The whole of Europe is in an energy crisis. The pipeline, which is owned by a subsidiary of Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy giant, has been filled with natural gas but has not come into operation, pending its regulator. Germany approved.
The pipeline was certified by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government before she left office, the last step before the project is turned over to the regulator, who has said the project could be approved as early as possible. in the middle of this year.
But Tuesday’s announcement rescinded previous government approval and the project will now be re-examined under Mr Scholz’s economic ministry, led by a member of the environmentalist Greens party. religion. Since taking office, both Mr. Scholz and his minister have emphasized the importance of diversification German energy source get rid of too much dependence on Russian natural gas.
Last year, Russian gas accounted for almost 27% of energy consumed in Germany, according to government data, the increase is expected to continue after the country shuts down the last three nuclear power plants. ants in December and works to phase out coal. – Burn down power plants by 2030.
Two-thirds of the gas Germany burned last year came from Russia.
Oleg Matsnev contribution report.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/22/business/nord-stream-pipeline-germany-russia.html Germany Stops Nord Stream 2, an important Russian natural gas pipeline