Nord Stream 2 “key issue” in Ukraine de-escalation

Nord Stream 2 “key issue” in Ukraine de-escalation
President Biden says that the pipeline will not open if Putin invades Ukraine, but the French Finance Minister says that Europe and America "have different interests". / Image: Nord Stream 2 website.
By Theo Normanton in Moscow February 8, 2022

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has described the unopened gas pipeline between Germany and Russia as a “key issue” in talks to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine.

In an interview with French radio station France Inter, Le Maire said “opening the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is one of the key negotiation points, and probably one of the key issues in finding a way out of the crisis with Russia.”

With a dearth of gas in Europe driving up energy prices, Nord Stream 2 would double Moscow’s gas exports to Germany. Russia’s gas production is enjoying a five-year high at the moment, and the new pipeline would increase the capacity it could send to Central Europe. Equally important, from Moscow’s perspective, is the fact that the new pipeline would bypass Ukraine, preventing Russia’s neighbour from collecting transit fees and depriving Ukraine of a strategic weapon in the form of control over Russian gas exports.

“We will not allow ourselves to be led by America on a question which cannot be anything other than European. We have different interests to them in this Ukrainian crisis,” said Le Maire, referring to Biden’s threat of scrapping Nord Stream 2 if Russia invaded.

But Le Maire insisted that Europe represents “the voice of dialogue and de-escalation” in this crisis. French President Emmanuel Macron has been vocal in advocating for greater dialogue between Ukraine and Russia, keen to assert himself on the world stage as a presidential election looms in France. Macron visited Moscow and Kyiv this week, speaking to the presidents of both countries in an effort to reach a deal to reduce tensions.