Britain sides with Ukraine on Nord Stream 2

On 22 May, The Guardian reported that UK's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson sent British lawmakers a letter outlining the government's position on the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) dispute. The document reiterates Britain's commitment of standing firm on Ukraine's side and describes the project as deepening EU's dependence on energy imports from a „malign” actor. Johnson added that the initiative is divisive to the Euro-Atlantic unity which was the "strongest tool in standing up to malign Russian activity”.

The UK, the US, but also Poland, fear that NS2, which will increase direct exports of Russian gas to Germany to 110 bcm, and thus potentially deprive Ukraine of revenue equivalent to 2% of its GDP, could possibly expose Kiev to further Russian aggression. On 10 April 2018, Gazprom's CEO Andrei Miller confirmed that future gas transit through Ukraine may drop to 10 bcm from the current volume of 93 bcm. Germany has sought to reassure its allies on the issue by promising to obtain Russian guarantees with regard to the Ukrainian transit, but the position of Russian President Putin on the issue, as expressed during the 18 May meeting at Sochi with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is that the transit will continue only if it is economically justified. Taking into account both Miller's prognosis, and the Turkish Stream's capacity of 31,5 bcm (which is expected to be commissioned in 2019), it is questionable whether there will be any economic incentives for Russian gas to continue flowing through Ukraine. Even if such formal guarantees were to be offered, the US has expressed doubts whether they would be enforceable, as this would depend on Russia's benevolence.

Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Italy, Denmark and the Baltic countries have also expressed their opposition to the project, which the President of the European Council Donald Tusk has described on 18 December 2015 as not being in the EU's interests. On 8 April 2018, European Commission's director-general for energy Dominique Ristori, announced that the EC will not support the project because it violates the principles of transparency and free access to energy sources. In the face of this mounting opposition, Germany's unilateral decision to move ahead with the project is being criticised not only as another example of Berlin's self-centered approach on issues of shared European interest, but also as a decision which comes at the cost of conferring Russia a double geopolitical advantage by further increasing the Europe's dependency on its natural resources while circumventing and isolating Ukraine.

 

About author: Mihai Turcanu

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