Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Germany’s Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, today announced that Berlin will not certify the Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline “until further notice”, effectively ending the 9.5-billion euro project.
While Scholz and his predecessor, Angela Merkel, were long reluctant to consider putting the gas infrastructure project under sanctions, to the extent even of facing open criticism from allied countries over the matter, the German Government stopped the project in its tracks on Tuesday in response to Russian troops entering Ukraine the day before.
The pipeline, owned by a subsidiary of Russian state-owned Gazprom energy giant, was intended to double the volume of Russian gas pumped through the Baltic Sea, enabling Moscow to largely bypass Ukraine when delivering natural gas to Europe. Scholz and Merkel both called for the pipeline to be considered separately from politics, refusing to commit to end the project in case of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“The situation today is totally different, and therefore, in light of recent events, we must also reassess this situation, also in regard to Nord Stream 2”, Scholz told a press conference on Tuesday.
“Today, I asked the Economy Ministry to withdraw the existing report on the analysis of supply security”, Scholz said, explaining that the technical-sounding request was a necessary administrative step to make sure that the pipeline could no longer be certified. “And without this certification, Nord Stream 2 cannot go into operation”, Scholz declared.
The German Chancellor stressed that the decision by Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, to recognise the breakaway, Moscow-backed separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk violated international law, the Minsk Agreement, and represented a break with the United Nations Charter. Scholz also made clear that internationally coordinated sanctions would be announced later during the day.