The Nord Stream pipeline 2, which will double the flow of Russian gas to Germany through the Baltic Sea, will be concluded without incurring US sanctions: the agreement, announced by Washington and Berlin in a joint note, avertes a diplomatic crisis between the White House and the precious German ally but it arouses the wrath of Ukraine, which is bypassed by infrastructure and, unable to leverage its role as a transit country as in the past, fears it will remain at the mercy of the Kremlin.
Cost over 9 billion euros and now 98% completed, the project had been opposed both by the US, which feared the increase in Europe’s energy dependence on Moscow, and by some European countries, including Poland and France, which had tried in vain to convince Berlin to back off.
The doubling of Nord Stream, whose first branch has been operational since 2011, is however fundamental for the energy requirements Germany which, after renouncing nuclear energy, will also have to reduce the use of coal to comply with European limits on greenhouse gas emissions. The German government had therefore always resolutely resisted international pressure, forcing the president of the United States, Joe Biden, to yield.
In the joint note with which they announce the agreement, which should also provide for the lifting of the sanctions against the Swiss company that operates the pipeline, The US and Germany promise to react with sanctions if the Kremlin uses energy as a weapon of blackmail against Ukraine or “commits further aggressive actions”.
Furthermore, the agreement commits the Germany to finance Ukraine’s green transition with a billion dollar fund and to deal with Moscow an extension beyond 2024 of the transit of Russian gas through the territory of Kiev, with the aim of a ten-year extension. All issues discussed by Merkel in a phone call with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who expressed satisfaction with the closure of the affair.
However, reassurances are not enough in Kiev. Foreign ministers of Ukraine and Poland, Dmytro Kuleba and Zbigniew Rau, who met in the capital of the former Soviet republic, said that “such a decision has created further political, military and energy threats for Ukraine and Central Europe as a whole”.