The Russian-led gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2, which is aimed at delivering Russian gas to Europe via Germany, must be completed, according to the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier.
The minister says the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has nothing to do with the project.
“These are two different issues, two different areas,” Altmaier said in an interview with ARD television, stressing that his office strongly opposes the termination of the pipeline’s construction.
On Wednesday, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert confirmed that Berlin is committed to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline despite escalating tensions in Ukraine.
“I have taken note of the criticism but nothing has changed in the basic view of the economic project, which is what Nord Stream is,” Seibert told journalists in Berlin.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has been slammed by Ukraine, the US and some other nations for various reasons. They have stepped up criticism of the project since Ukrainian Navy vessels violated the Russian maritime border in the Black Sea on Sunday morning, triggering an unavoidable standoff.
Ukrainian officials have repeatedly appealed to Germany and the European Union, asking for the project to be put on hold. According to Kiev, the future pipeline would bypass Ukraine and deprive its budget of transit fees. At the same time, Berlin and Moscow assured Kiev that gas transit through Ukraine to Europe would be maintained.
At the same time, the White House has attacked the pipeline as another step towards deepening Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, that is allegedly used by Moscow as a manipulative tool. Washington threatened to impose punitive measures against corporations engaged in the construction of the gas pipeline.
Moreover, the US government is currently trying to fight for its own share of the European energy market, trying to sell more of its liquefied natural gas (LNG). In October, The German federal government agreed to co-finance the construction of a €500 million ($576 million) LNG shipping terminal in northern Germany.
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is set to run from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. It is expected to double the existing pipeline’s capacity of 55 billion cubic meters annually. Nord Stream 2 is projected to provide transit for 70 percent of Russian gas sales to the EU. The project, led by a subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, is being implemented in partnership with German energy firms Wintershall and Uniper, French multinational Engie, British-Dutch oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Austrian energy company OMV.