German media reveal how Berlin can restore ties with Kiev amid Nord Stream 2 spat
Successive Ukrainian governments after the Maidan coup have strongly criticized Germany’s central role in the Nord Stream 2 gas mega-infrastructure project with Russia, warning that the pipeline could not only deprive Kiev of the revenues it needs. much needed through gas transit, but pose an unspecified problem. “Security challenge”. Berlin has rejected the latter allegations.
Germany could fix its disagreement with Ukraine over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project by economically compensating the Eastern European nation if it loses its status as a gas transit nation, Spiegel reported.
In an article published ahead of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s upcoming meetings with Ukrainian and US leaders next week, the magazine suggested that among the options discussed in Berlin was “cooperation” with Kiev “in the production of hydrogen.” , a potential source of clean fuel. which Germany and other countries of the European Union expect to develop strongly over the next two decades.
Another option would be to commit to Kiev to spend several billion euros to repair the country’s gas infrastructure, which is said to be in poor condition.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will visit Germany on Sunday and promises to present German Chancellor Angela Merkel with “convincing arguments” against the almost complete commissioning of the Nord Stream 2, including his arguments that the pipeline project is “harmful” to “both Ukraine and European countries” and that it can be used as a “weapon” by Moscow.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Friday vowed that Kiev would continue to fight the pipeline, and that even if its campaign fails, the European Union could agree to drastically limit its use.
Ukrainian authorities have spent the past six years attacking Nord Stream 2, with the pipeline infrastructure – which runs along the bottom of the Baltic Sea from Russia to northeast Germany – expected to bypass traditional transit countries entirely , notably Ukraine and Poland, allowing Russia to export gas directly to Western Europe.
In 2019, Ukrainian officials calculated that they would receive around $ 15 billion in revenue from Russian gas transit over the next five years. But the country’s future status as a transit nation has been called into question due to the unprecedented collapse of relations between Kiev and Moscow following the West-backed coup in 2014 in Ukraine and the repeated threats from the authorities to turn off the taps. amid gas disputes with Russian Gazprom even before that.
Chancellor Merkel will meet with US President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday, with the issue of Nord Stream 2 widely expected among the issues discussed. Like Ukraine, the United States has pressured Germany heavily in recent years to torpedo the project, threatening sanctions and pushing Berlin to buy more expensive American liquefied natural gas instead of Russian pipeline gas. In May, Biden lifted U.S. sanctions against the Swiss operator of Nord Stream 2 – Nord Stream 2 AG – in a bid to improve transatlantic relations in a post-Trump world. At the same time, Washington reserved the right to impose further restrictions on the project at will on the basis of Russian “behavior”.
Germany has long resisted US and European pressure against Nord Stream 2, saying it is strictly an economic project that will serve the continent’s economic interests and help ensure its energy security. In addition, German business leaders have expressed interest in the network’s ability to transport hydrogen, as the pipeline can be filled to 70% of its capacity with the potential clean fuel. Using the pipeline to transport hydrogen could help Europe in its ambitious plans to build more than 3,700 hydrogen refueling stations over the next decade, and Germany in its attempt to phase out completely. use of traditional internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040.
Once completed, Nord Stream 2 will double the transit capacity of the existing Nord Stream network to the equivalent of 110 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The project is expected to be completed and launched later this year.