President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky is said that after the launch of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, the Russian side will do everything possible to ensure that the contract on the gas transit through the territory of Ukraine is not renewed.
"If they finish the construction of Nord Stream 2, this is a threat to the energy security of Ukraine and Europe. Russia will definitely disconnect us. Right, we have a contract. By the way, due to Germany and France, we agreed on this contract for five years in the Normandy format. And out of these five years, almost two have already passed. In three years, this contract will expire. If they finish the technical side of Nord Stream 2 this year, it will start working in two or three years. We know what will happen then. All this is being done, so that Ukraine does not have the next contract," Zelensky said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung German newspaper, the text of which was released on the presidential website on Tuesday.
He is also said Russia uses this lever in matters of Donbas and Crimea.
"I believe Nord Stream 2 is no different from the annexation of Crimea. I will explain why. In order to take Crimea and have the opportunity to bargain, a war was started in the east of Ukraine, then the issue of Crimea is gradually 'forgotten' [...] But we continued to bring this up. That is why I decided to create the Crimean platform [...] Now the Russians follow the same scenario. That is, they have constant leverage for trading," Zelensky said.
"Further, in order to bargain in Donbas, to get amnesty for the separatists, in order to retain control over the results of local elections for Russia, and so on, we need to raise the stakes. Nord Stream 2 is a trump bet for today. In reality, they have a royal flush in their hands, which is also partially supported by Europe," the head of the Ukrainian state said.
When asked if the existence of Nord Stream 2 increases the risks of war due to the fact that gas transit through Ukraine is currently holding back a possible blitz from Russia, Zelensky said the war in Ukraine has been going on since 2014 and an additional possibility of escalation from the Russian side will not be the last reason to start hostilities,
"They ask me if we are afraid to get the MAP (Membership Action Plan) in NATO or to be a member of the Alliance […] Am I afraid that this will start a war? And they ask the same about the pipeline. I just want to answer that we already have a historical reality. The war started in 2014. We were not in NATO then. We had excellent relations with Russia, and no one in Donbas wanted to disconnect from Ukraine. Nothing bothered anyone. Therefore, I agree that there is such a possibility of escalation, but it seems to me that that this is not a reason for Russia to start or continue hostilities," he said.
"I really think that it would be great to have Europe and the United States as partners, as co-owners in the Ukrainian gas transmission system. Since the question is not that no one would damage this pipeline, would not commit any actions against it, but that everyone would defend these contracts and protect the security of Ukraine and Europe in general," Zelensky said.