Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the future of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline during their recent meeting in Berlin. The Russian leader said that the project was exclusively an economic project and reiterated that the pipeline would not “close the door to shipping gas through Ukraine”. Nord Stream 2 is a very divisive topic among EU member states that has raised concerns in the White House as well.
Donald Trump criticized the project, saying that it would be a “total control” of Russia. He said in particular that the venture would make Germany Russia’s “captive”. Germany has had a major interest in the pipeline, which, if finalized, could double the amount of gas that is already flowing directly from Russia to Germany through the already existing pipeline. Chancellor Merkel commented that “Ukraine must continue to play a role in the transit of gas to Europe once Nord Stream 2 is in place”.
Kyiv has been a fierce opponent of the pipeline. “It is certainly a geopolitical project aimed to weaken Ukraine. To do everything to leave Ukraine without profits from the existing gas transport system,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko commented earlier this summer. Meanwhile, prior to the meeting with her Russian counterpart, Ms. Merkel admitted that Ukraine certainly had a role to play in the project but she sought to dampen the expectations of her meeting with Vladimir Putin. She said that “no concrete outcome” was in sight but she emphasized that “controversial issues can only be solved through dialogue”.
Nord Stream 2 will run parallel to another Russia-Germany pipeline that started operating in 2011 and has caused much dispute within Europe and was also criticized by Washington. Ukraine fears that the new project would mean that the country would lose its revenues from transit charges, which currently amount to 3 billion dollars annually.