Germany has taken steps to halt the procedure of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced Tuesday, as the West started seizing punitive measures against Kremlin on the Ukraine crisis. The ruling, which was denounced by Moscow, is a crucial move for the German government.
Scholz announced that his government made the decision in reaction to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of the independence of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine that he told marked a “serious break of international law.”
“Now it’s up to the global community to answer to this one-sided, incomprehensible and unjustified activity by the Russian president,” he said to reporters in Berlin, adding that it was necessary to “send a clear signal to Kremlin that such actions won’t continue without consequences.”
Until now, Berlin had long withstood pulling the plug on the project, even after strong pressure from the United States and some European nations to do so. Washington has for years also asserted that building another pipeline carrying natural gas from Russia to Germany — particularly one that bypasses Ukraine — boosts Europe’s reliance on Russian energy supplies.
U.S. officials have also notified that Nord Stream 2 poses dangers to Ukraine and Poland because it could permit Russia to stop pumping gas through those countries. Scholz’s predecessor Angela Merkel had upheld the project, as have prominent pictures in Scholz’s centre-left Social Democratic Party.
“The problem now is fundamentally different,” Scholz announced on Tuesday, saying that the government had concluded to withdraw a report on the effect that the pipeline — which hasn’t started operating yet — would have on the assurance of Germany’s gas supplies.
“That may sound technical, but it’s a necessary administrative step without which the certification of the pipeline cannot happen now,” he announced. Scholz expanded that Germany’s Economy Ministry would reassess the problem in light of the latest growths.
“That will clearly take time, if I may say so,” he added. The company that employs Nord Stream 2 declined sudden comment. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced on Twitter that the U.S. administration had closely consulted with Germany overnight and greeted the statement.
“We will be following up with our own measures today,” she announced on Twitter.
Germany joins about a quarter of its energy needs with natural gas, a share that will boost in the coming years as the country switches off its last three nuclear power plants and stages out the use of coal. About half of the natural gas utilized in Germany comes from Russia.
The government intends to end the use of all fossil fuels in Germany by 2045. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba applauded Germany for cancelling the certification of the pipeline. “This is a morally, politically and practically correct step in the current circumstances,” he penned on Twitter. “True leadership means tough judgments in difficult times. Germany’s move confirms just that.”
But Russia’s former president, Dmitry Medvedev, crashed the German government’s decision to halt certification of the pipeline. “Welcome to the bear new world where Europeans are very soon going to pay 2,000 euros for 1.000 cubic meters of natural gas!” announced Medvedev, who is now deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council.