Germany’s new foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, told German broadcaster ZDF on Dec. 12 that Russia’s current hostile actions towards Ukraine are “a factor” in the certification delay of the Kremlin’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
This is the first time a member of the German government has explicitly linked the delay of the project’s certification to the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine.
European gas futures surged 11% at the news, and are now nearly 400% higher than at the beginning of 2021.
Russia has amassed nearly 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and in occupied territories in what Ukrainian and Western intelligence see as the Kremlin’s potential preparation for large-scale invasion in early 2022.
On Nov. 16, Germany’s federal energy regulator suspended the certification of Nord Stream 2, which must occur before any gas can flow through the pipeline. The regulator said that Nord Stream 2 AG, the Russian-owned, Swiss-registered company responsible for the project, did not meet German energy law and needed to register a German subsidiary.
Baerbock told ZDF that the three coalition parties forming the new government agreed that “as things stand at the moment, this pipeline can’t be approved because it does not fulfill the requirements of European energy law.”
Germany has had a new center-left coalition government led by Social Democrat Chancellor Olaf Scholz since Dec. 8, after the culmination of Angela Merkel’s 16 years at the country’s helm.
Baerbock’s Green Party, who have consistently opposed Nord Stream 2, are one of the coalition partners. The Free Democratic Party, a fellow coalition partner, also opposes the pipeline, which puts significant pressure on the traditionally pro-Nord Stream 2 Social Democrats.
Merkel approved and consistently supported Nord Stream 2, which will be able to transport 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year under the Baltic Sea, depriving Ukraine of up to $2 billion of annual transit revenues and a deterrent against further Russian aggression.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov also accused Merkel’s government in a Dec. 12 Financial Times interview of blocking weapon sales to Ukraine via the NATO Support and Procurement Agency.