Russia does not plan to shut off gas to Ukraine after completion of Nord Stream 2 pipeline, senior diplomat insists – RT Russia and ex-Soviet Union
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has been presented as an essential element of European energy security. But, for his detractors, it could be a dubious Russian ploy to cut Ukraine off from energy. Today, Moscow seeks to allay these fears.
Speaking to RIA Novosti in an interview published on Monday, Dmitri Birichevsky, director of economic cooperation at the country’s foreign ministry, said Russia’s fears of shutting off supplies to its neighbor were unfounded . “We do not intend to suspend gas supply via Ukraine”, he said, insisting that “Russia has never used energy or natural resources as a means of pressure or blackmail.”
In April, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Aleksey Reznikov wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the pipeline was an existential threat to his country’s security and economy. He claimed that Moscow had previously “Tried to intimidate Ukraine” by threatening to cut off energy supplies.
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This argument found support from former President Donald Trump’s White House officials, with top Washington politicians claiming the project amounted to “Serious threat” to Europe “Energy security and US national security.”
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However, last week current President Joe Biden said Trump-era sanctions on companies involved in laying the pipeline would be dropped. “I had opposed Nord Stream 2 from the start, but it was almost finished by the time I took office,” the Democratic Party politician told reporters in Washington last Tuesday. “Go ahead and impose sanctions now, I think that’s counterproductive in terms of European relations.” Construction could now be completed as early as September.
Nord Stream 2 will bypass Kiev’s borders, connecting Siberian gas fields to consumers in Western Europe via a conduit under the Baltic Sea, which will settle in Germany. Although Birichevsky insists that it will not be used to cut Ukraine off completely from its supplies, it will likely lead to a substantial drop in Kiev’s income in the long run, as Moscow pays substantial sums for the right to transport gas across the country.
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In 2019, Russian state energy company Gazprom struck a deal to keep the fuel in circulation for another five years, paying around $ 7 billion as part of the deal. The network was built on orders from Moscow in Soviet times, before the breakup of the USSR. While Ukrainian politicians have warned that the country “Risk of losing billions of dollars in public transport revenues”, Birichevsky said no short-term changes were expected. He added that the agreement, which expires in 2024, is still valid and that after it expires, “There will be negotiations between Gazprom and their partners in Ukraine.”
An explosive report released late last year found that lobbyists for Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz, as well as at least one representative of the country’s security council, had actively launched a lobbying campaign in Washington aimed at obtaining US sanctions against its construction. Naftogaz’s Vadim Glamazdin reportedly claimed that further measures being considered by US politicians would be “The last nail in the coffin” for the project. “When these sanctions are finally passed and become law, there will be no practical way to build this pipeline,” he would have added.
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