Saga of Nord Stream-2: Ukraine is Taking Over the Initiative from the Baltic States and Poland

News from this front have been controversial recently – after US President Joe Biden called the problem of the pipeline difficult on 26 May, stating that further sanctions against Nord Stream 2 will not be efficient, construc…

News from this front have been controversial recently – after US President Joe Biden called the problem of the pipeline difficult on 26 May, stating that further sanctions against Nord Stream 2 will not be efficient, construction of the pipeline will continue because/when it is almost finished. By the way, he also added that personally he was always against the project and everybody in the United States and Europe have been well aware of.
However, in a telephone conversation with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany Heiko Maas on 24 May United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken recalled Washington’s negative attitude towards North Stream 2. Prior to that, at a G-7 meeting in London held on 5 May, the two Ministers discussed the topic of the Russian pipeline in a 40-minute conversation but were unable to speak with one voice.
On19 May, the Unites States Department of the Treasury “so far” restricted to sanctions to 13 ships and four organizations involved in the construction of North Stream 2, but not to construction operator Nord Stream 2 AG and its Managing Director Matthias Warnig, a friend of President of Russia Vladimir Putin and a former officer of the Ministry for State Security (Stasi) of East Germany.
The White House has refused to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG because it complies with the national interests of the USA, as Antony Blinken reasoned.
A strange situation arose when the ships laying the pipeline, but not the company coordinating the whole process, found themselves under sanctions. Explaining the puzzle, the minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba on May 20 speculated that perhaps the administration of the President Joe Biden had opted for a more flexible approach to stop the pipeline. However, according to the Minister, if the project is completed, it will mean the defeat of American diplomacy.
Despite the ambiguity of the situation, the Ukrainian state oil and gas company thanked them promptly on the day the sanctions were imposed.
Having refused imposition of additional sanctions on Nord Stream 2 by judges, President Joe Biden signaled that he was doing so in appreciation of the partnership with Germany as an important, influential member of the European Union (EU). In other words, it gives Berlin a chance to assume responsibility for the project.

In response/thanking the American leader, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel announced on the first day of June that she would send a German delegation to Washington for negotiations, it turned out, for a particularly delicate topic of the pipeline. There are also versions/assumptions that the Chancellor is still seeking to crown her long-standing rule (she has been the Chancellor since 2005) with the end of the controversial construction.
Here we wrote (text “Turns in the Outcomes of Nord Stream-2 Test to the Baltic Region”) about the contribution of the Baltic States and Poland to suspension of the project. On 28 July, Nord Stream-2 was assessed as a threat to European energy security by a joint statement on behalf of the Lublin Triangle (Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine) by the press services of the Foreign Ministries of Poland and Ukraine after the meeting between Ministers Jacek Czaputowicz and Dmytro Kuleba. The statement stated that the countries of the “Lublin Triangle” would oppose implementation of the project in order not to become the objects of blackmail from Moscow. Polish antitrust regulator imposed a fine on in the amount of PLN 213 million ($ 57 million) on 3 August, the highest provided by legislation for unwillingness pf the concern to cooperate in the North Stream-2 investigation.
This traditional Nord Stream 2 opponent does not slow down. Head of the International Policy Bureau of the President’s Office of Poland Krzysztof Szczerski on 21 May told that Poland was distancing itself from the US decision not to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG as lacking consistency. On 26 May, Minister of National Defence of Poland Mariusz Błaszczak responded to a question of journalists about the US president’s statement about Nord Stream-2, saying he was disappointed that he signaled inconsistencies in the position of the United States.
On 21 May, the position of Germany on North Stream-2 was criticized by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of Latvia Artis Pabriks, who told in his account that he was ashamed of German politicians supporting a disputable geopolitical project moralizing others in Europe over refugees, etc.
Ukraine has recently taken the lead on this issue, logically linking the threat posed by the pipeline to its Euro-Atlantic integration ambitions and beyond.
In an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 29 May, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky told that the Nord Stream-2 project was not different from the annexation of Crimea. The Russians repeated the scenario when they started a war in the east of Ukraine in search of a market after “taking over” Crimea – as a “trump card” in negotiations. The price of the negotiations is now being raised on the pipeline, which is supported by some part of Europe, although the completion of the North Stream-2 threatens the energy security of both Ukraine and Europe.
According to the President of Ukraine, although his country still has a five-year agreement (by the way, earned thanks to Germany and France) for supply of gas to Europe through its territory, almost a couple of years have passed. If the pipeline is technically completed this year, after two or three years, gas will already flow through it; it is obvious that Moscow will then disconnect Ukraine.
On 31 May, the World Congress of Ukrainians called on the German Federal Government and democratic parties to declare an immediate moratorium on the construction of Nord Stream-2, as the pipeline is the political weapon of the Kremlin, primarily threatening the eastern part of the EU and Ukraine.
According to Congressman Paul Grod, the moratorium will make it clear the strategic consequences of the completed pipeline to the international community – that it conflicts with energy policy goals of the EU and threatens transatlantic unity. In case of Ukraine, the pipeline is a direct threat to its already fragile security. The moratorium will also allow a unanimous EU position on this issue and will be a signal to Moscow that its ongoing violations of international law will not be left without any consequences.
In an interview with the Berliner Zeitung on 29 May, the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk pointed to a possible change in the position of Germany on North Stream-2 following the September parliamentary elections. The Greens (“Union90/Greens”) are considered as one of their favorites, already suggest that they are in front of the pipeline. The German Free Democratic Party is calling for a moratorium on its construction, and this issue is splitting the biggest member of the ruling coalition Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Thus, according to Andriy Melnyk, the number of opponents of the project is increasing in Germany as well.
The interview was published after the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany and one Chairman of the “Union90/Greens” party on 25 May discussed opposition to Nord Stream-2 in Kiev as a threat to Ukraine and the EU. Both participants of the dialogue indicated that security concerns were worrying, as there was no doubt that Russia would use the completed project as an instrument to pursue geopolitical goals that go further, the more revanchist. And on the same day, President Volodymyr Zelensky met Robert Habeck on the same topic, tone and general conclusions.
From the speech of Agnieszka Brugger, a spokeswoman for the “Union90 /Greens”, the smallest but most anti-Moscow party in the parliamentary debate last summer, she strongly criticized both Russian and German government policies and demanded not only halting pipeline construction but also extending personal sanctions against the Kremlin related to Russian business oligarchs.
On 28 May, the President of Ukraine, during a meeting with the Prime Minister of Slovakia Eduard Heger, who was on an official visit to his country, stated the strategic importance of cooperation between Ukraine and Slovakia in achieving European energy security. In this context, the negotiators agreed that the North Stream-2 was a political (not economic, as the Kremlin and the current German rulers insisted) project intended for disruption of the energy solidarity of the European countries. On that occasion, Eduard Heger saw the need to express support for Ukraine’s Euro integration aspirations.
On 27 May, the appointed new Ukrainian ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova, initiated a remote meeting with a group of friends of Congress in Ukraine, which included representatives of both parties – Republicans and Democrats. The meeting discussed opposition to the construction of Nord Stream-2 in the context of the Strategic Partnership between Ukraine and United States and emphasized the threat it posed to the entire Black Sea region and Europe and distinguished the importance of sanctions.
At a joint press conference with the Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Helga Schmid on 26 May the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine emphasized that North Stream-2 was not completed until it was 100% completed, although the project was “extended” to 95%. Its initiators have a good chance of completing it. However, the game is still going on, nothing has been lost yet, he told the US Secretary of State during her visit to Kiev on May 5-6. According to Dmytro Kuleba, the principle of his life is to fight for national interests of Ukraine to the full in all circumstances.
On the same day, Executive Director of Yuriy Vitrenko announced that the company was strengthening a team working to prevent Nord Sream-2 from launching. According to the official, the partners will continue to be persuaded that the pipeline is a dangerous geopolitical weapon of the Kremlin, threatening the entire civilized world. Positive dynamics in this activity is expected in the next 2-3 months.
The speaker of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Dmytro Razumkov told on May 21 that Rada had voted in favor of appealing to the American Congress to impose sanctions on participants in the North Stream-2 project and that the pipeline issue should be high on the agenda of the country.
After all, it must be said, the intensity is admirable.
Perhaps on the same 21 May, 14 U.S. Senator Republicans submitted a draft law to the Congress on sanctions against the operator of the pipeline Nord Stream 2 AG and its Managing Director Matthias Warnig. As s Senator Kevin Cramer, the initiator of the law, expressly emphasized that the pipeline of Vladimir Putin must be stopped.
On 2 June, 20 Republican members of the Congress called on the US government to reverse the decision not to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG and its Managing director. According to the authors of the letter, the argument of the State Department that sanctions would harm relations of the United States with its allies in Europe is completely out of line with the position of Central and Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, which are most threatened by North Stream-2.
Finally, Angela Merkel told on 25 May that the current German rulers understand that the issue of the pipeline is being raised because it may become meaningless once the Ukrainian pipeline transit system becomes operational. Therefore, the Germans will work to ensure that gas transit through this country is not interrupted. For example, there is the following compromise as an option: even if Nord Stream-2 is launched, 40 billion cubic meters of Russian gas would remain in Ukraine for the next 10-20 years. This would probably satisfy all parties – Germany, Ukraine, Russia, and the United States.
To tell the truth, nothing is over yet. According to the prestigious German daily Die Welt (21 May), the Unites States of America is only a visible sign of reconciliation, the struggle for Nord Sream-2 is becoming more intense.
Arūnas Spraunius

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