The newly completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea has come tantalisingly close to being able to pump billions of cubic metres of Russian gas to the European Union. The link between Russia and Germany runs parallel to the existing Nord Stream pipeline that’s been fully operational since 2012 and has a ready-made market. But its startup was already delayed by earlier US efforts to block its completion, and now Russia’s recognition of two separatist republics in eastern Ukraine has further stalled the project, putting approval on ice as Europe prepares new sanctions aimed at Russia.
1. What’s suspended it for now?
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the breakaway republics in Ukraine had materially changed the situation so that “no certification of the pipeline can happen right now.” Without it, he told reporters, the gas link “cannot go into operation.” Scholz effectively froze the approval process by having the Economy Ministry withdraw its assessment that the project does not pose a threat to security of supply. Economy Minister Robert Habeck, a co-leader of Germany’s Green party, which has been a vocal opponent of the pipe, said that the political conflict between Russia and the Ukraine will be taken into account in reevaluating energy security.