13.07.2021 – 09:24
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit the White House on July 15. When she meets with U.S. President Joe Biden, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is likely to be at the top of the agenda.
USA. has long opposed the Kremlin-led energy infrastructure project, but in recent months Biden has made clear his willingness to explore possible compromises that could minimize any negative impact from the pipeline while preventing a “rupture” in relations. US-Germany.
During the next meeting in Washington, Merkel is expected to present the economic issue for Nord Stream 2 while reiterating Germany’s assurances of readiness to insist on the continuation of Russian gas transit through Ukraine after the expiration of the current contract, which will expire in 2024.
From a purely commercial point of view, Merkel’s arguments may seem convincing.
But as most honest observers know, Nord Stream 2 is no ordinary business project.
Rather, it is a geopolitical weapon aimed at the heart of Europe that has been conceived from day one as a means to isolate Ukraine and strengthen Russia’s position in its confrontation with the Western world.
With the construction of Nord Stream 2 currently nearing completion, Russia is doing little to allay fears that it intends to blackmail Europe with the new pipeline. On the contrary, Moscow’s actions show that it is growing more confident in its ability to exploit energy supplies for geopolitical benefits.
In recent months, Kremlin-controlled gas giant Gazprom has rejected Ukraine’s offers for additional pipeline capacity, despite rising European gas demand due to a number of factors including maintenance on Russian alternative pipelines.
Moscow prefers to wait for Nord Stream 2 to be commissioned and wants to send a clear message that it expects Russia ‘s European clients to facilitate this process without delay.
Russia’s decision not to send additional gas to European markets through Ukraine has resulted in record high prices and declining gas reserves.
This is raising concerns across Europe ahead of next season.
Moscow’s actions cannot be explained by referring to Gazprom’s legitimate economic interests.
In reality, these latest maneuvers reflect Russia’s geopolitical interests and Vladimir Putin’s personal preferences.
The Kremlin has clearly felt the lack of unity within the Western world over the Nord Stream 2 project and is eager to deepen these divisions.
By refusing to address the current supply shortage, Putin hopes to increase pressure on Germany and the EU for the final approvals required before Nord Stream 2 enters service. ]
In doing so, he intends to underscore the growing strength of Russia’s position as Europe’s main gas supplier.
Gazprom’s recent actions demonstrate once again that Russia is not a reliable partner and does not intend to separate economic interests from geopolitical ones.
Instead, Moscow sees energy supplies as a foreign policy tool to expand Russian influence.
This is immediately apparent within the borders of the former Tsarist and Soviet empires, where modern Russia continues to regard its independent neighbors as only partially sovereign and subject to the unofficial control of the Kremlin.
The main target of Russia’s current gas pipeline policies is Ukraine.
While the negative impact of Nord Stream 2 on the Ukrainian economy is well documented, Putin’s new pipeline poses a potentially much greater threat to Ukrainian security.
With the battle over Nord Stream 2 now entering its final and crucial phase, it is time for European leaders to consider the implications of this game-changing infrastructure project.
Is it really in Europe’s interest to support a pipeline that Russia clearly considers a geopolitical weapon? How can EU leaders pretend to stay with Ukraine while allowing Nord Stream 2 to continue?
The only tangible answer to these difficult questions is greater European solidarity. If Ukraine and EU member states do not stand together now, there may be little doubt that they will individually fall victim to further acts of blackmail and Russian aggression once Moscow has consolidated its control over the continent’s energy supplies. .
Inna Sovsun is a Ukrainian MP with the Golos party