The Geopolitical Fight Behind Nord Stream 2

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UPDATE: A natural gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany is at the center of tensions over Ukraine.

  • In September, construction on a new pipeline running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany was completed. Dubbed, Nord Stream 2, it’s one of the most controversial pipelines ever built.
  • That’s because leaders in the US and some European countries believe the pipeline makes Germany utterly dependent on Russian natural gas, giving the Kremlin too much leverage over the EU.
  • Now, as the Kremlin amasses troops on the Ukraine border, the pipeline is playing a key role in the conflict.
  • The Kremlin is already weaponizing its natural gas supply, and is now cutting existing flows to Europe in order to raise pressure on the EU to meet its demands with regard to Ukraine.
  • This week, US officials have said that, should Russia invade, they will ensure Nord Stream 2—which is yet to begin operation pending final regulatory approval—is shut down.
  • German officials have been less direct, but say that all options remain on the table regarding the pipeline.
  • The idea is that threatening to cancel the pipeline will deter Putin from invading, because it would rob Russia of a massive revenue stream.
  • But at a time of skyrocketing energy prices, Europe badly needs natural gas, and some analysts argue that Germany would be reluctant to shoot itself in the foot — even with Ukraine in peril.
  • The US this week tried to assuage German fears by promising to redirect US natural gas supplies to Europe should Russia cut off natural gas supplies in retaliation for EU sanctions.
The Guardian
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