US tries to reassure Ukraine over Russia’s completed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany
A US energy envoy says Washington has reassured allies in Ukraine over concerns regarding Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that was officially completed on Friday.
Amos Hochstein, an energy security adviser at the US State Department, told the media that Ukraine has until 2024 to protect its transit income while urging the war-torn state to embrace alternative energy.
Nord Stream 2 will double Russia’s exporting capacity running under the Baltic Sea from Ust Luga near St Petersburg to Greifswald near the Polish border.
Hochstein told Reuters: “We have to shift the process from talking about what we all wish would have happened, that the project would not be completed, to the reality now that it’s going to be completed.”
Russia, which ranks as the world’s fourth-biggest polluter, relies on oil and gas to fund more than a third of its budget.
Russia is a top-three crude producer and the second-largest gas supplier. It said it would not use the Nord Stream 2 until a German regulator approves the pipeline.
The United States, Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states have opposed the US$11-billion Nord Stream 2 project to bring Gazprom’s gas to the energy-hungry German market, bypassing Ukraine. A controversial US-German agreement in July allowed the 1,200km pipeline’s completion without further sanctions.
Both countries committed to impose costs on Russia to prevent Moscow from using Nord Stream 2 as a political weapon.
With Russian exports, a popular saying is that gas is the power and oil is the money.
While the Kremlin has used Gazprom’s gas pipelines to play politics in Europe, oil is pure business, critical for the country’s budget.
The US and Germany also agreed to support Ukraine and Poland by funding alternative energy and other development schemes.
Ukraine’s transit deal with Russia expires in 2024.
Hochstein added: “I am 100 per cent confident that we will do everything we can, and that the Germans are committed to do everything they can, to make sure that that transit continues.”
Critics of Nord Stream 2 argue that Russia’s 40-per-cent share of European gas supplies is dangerously high.
Apart from Nord Stream, there are two other lines taking gas from Russia to the European Union: the Soviet-era Brotherhood pipeline through Ukraine and the Yamal-Europe pipeline through Belarus and Poland.
Nord Stream 2 has been controversial for over a decade. Picture credit: YouTube