First modification: 08/01/2021 – 22:49
At sea, far from prying eyes, work on the unfinished Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is in full swing, despite criticism from the international community and US sanctions. Russia and Germany want to complete the gas pipeline linking the two countries as soon as possible, but others are doing everything possible to prevent it from happening. Environmental NGOs, Europe, Ukraine and the United States have gone against this project on economic and geopolitical issues.
Will Nord Stream 2, the second of two gas pipelines linking Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, ever be operational? In physical terms it is almost finished. Works were suspended in 2019 with more than 150 kilometers to go, after US sanctions caused European companies participating in the project to withdraw.
The United States and several EU countries have joined forces with Nord Stream 2’s loudest opponent: Ukraine. Kiev views the pipeline as an attempt by Russia to deprive it of vital gas transit revenues and thus further threaten its security, even as the war continues in Donbass.
More generally, many who see Vladimir Putin’s Russia as an opponent of European stability and unity argue that the pipeline runs counter to the continent’s attempts to contain it. Others wonder if making it easier and cheaper to transport Russian gas to Europe is really the best way to reduce CO2 emissions.
But Nord Stream 2’s Russian and German backers insist it’s a purely commercial project. They are determined to finish the job and get it back this year. Joe Biden’s decision in May to waive sanctions on the pipeline company and its CEO has given them hope and lifted spirits in German coastal regions that will directly benefit.
If completed, the question of what to do with the pipeline could become the first big headache for the next German government. Polls suggest that the September elections will pay off big for the Green Party, which has opposed the bill and whose supporters hope it will follow through.
Report by Gulliver Cragg, Anne Mailliet, Elena Volochine, Willy Mahler, Susanne Gelzenleuchter, Nigina Beroeva, and Pavel Sergeev.