Newly sworn-in German Chancellor Olaf Scholz suggested Tuesday, Jan. 18, that he would not hesitate to halt the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline megaproject linking Russia to Germany if the Kremlin decides to invade Ukraine after diplomatic talks over the tense military standoff failed last week.
Scholz met in Berlin with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss next steps after talks between Russia and key Western governments over the deployment of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border ended without progress last week, Reuters reported.
Earlier the German chancellor had already taken a stand against Russia’s threats, warning that he would approve sanctions if necessary. But yesterday, he deepened his discourse by casting doubt on the continuity of the huge project started jointly by the two countries more than ten years ago.
“It is clear that a high price will have to be paid and everything will have to be discussed if there is a military intervention in Ukraine,” Scholz told reporters.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock met with her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow on Tuesday and declared that the pipeline was among the options to deter the Kremlin.
“We have repeatedly stressed at various levels of this government that if energy is used as a weapon, that would also have a corresponding impact on this pipeline,” Baerbock told reporters while standing next to Lavrov.
The Russian government criticized Germany’s announcements, saying that attempts to politicize the pipeline issue could prove highly counterproductive for the bilateral relationship.
Despite recent speeches by the German government seeking to put pressure on Russia in the face of escalating tensions, it has refused to send arms to Ukraine, unlike other NATO members such as the United States and Britain, who have done so.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline
The Nord Stream 2 project was devised and developed in joint work between Germany and Russia over more than a decade. The pipeline is complete and ready to begin transporting gas from Russia to the West, but only final approval and certification are needed.
With a length of 1,230 kilometers, the $11.5 billion pipeline would double Russia’s direct gas export capacity to Germany to 110 billion cubic meters per year, DW News reports.
Critics of the project in the United States, including former President Donald Trump, warn that the pipeline will cause Germany and Europe to create a heavy dependence on Russia for energy.
Meanwhile, President Biden said last May that he decided to waive sanctions over the pipeline because “it is almost completely finished.”
Last week Democrats in the U.S. Senate succeeded in rejecting a bill introduced by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), which would have imposed sanctions on Nord Stream 2.