Nord Stream 2 pipeline is slowly becoming a political nightmare for German Chancellor Angela Merkel as US President Donald Trump, who described the pipeline as “horrific”, fears that the new project will increase Germany’s dependence on Russian natural gas. Ukraine, in the meantime, fears that the new pipeline will allow the Kremlin to cut it out of the prosperous and strategically important gas transit business.
The Nord Stream pressures come at a time when Berlin seeks to take more of a political leadership over Europe as the transatlantic partnership is fraying and Moscow and Beijing are getting more assertive. “The global order is under pressure,” Ms. Merkel said in July. “That’s a challenge for us… Germany’s responsibility is growing; Germany has more work to do.” Earlier in the spring, she admitted for the first time that there were “political considerations” to Nord Stream 2, although she had previously only focused on the pipeline’s a commercial value.
Most European countries want Germany to have a greater say over the European project and protect the Eastern neighboring countries from Russian influence and encroachment. Yet, letting Russia sell gas to Germany while bypassing Ukraine and depriving it of revenues would make the Baltic states and Poland more vulnerable to Russian control over gas supplies. “The price would be an even greater loss of trust from the Baltics, Poland and Ukraine,” commented Roderich Kiesewetter, Ms. Merkel’s ally on the parliamentary foreign affairs committee. “We Germans always say that holding the West together is our ‘center of gravity’, but the Russian approach has succeeded in dragging Germany, at least in terms of energy policy, out of this western solidarity.”