Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the Russian Federation will do everything possible not to prolong the contract for gas transit to the European Union via the territory of Ukraine in case it successfully completes construction of and launches the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
According to the president, who spoke with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Nord Stream 2 project "is no different from an attempt to illegally annex Crimea," the president's press service reports.
"I'll explain why. In order to grab Crimea and have the opportunity to bargain, a war was unleashed in the east of Ukraine, after that the issue of Crimea is being gradually 'watered down.' I raised this issue even in the Normandy format, and all the parties said Crimea was not on the agenda of these negotiations. But we continued to raise the topic. That is why I've decided to create the Crimean Platform since we understood the issue of the occupation of Crimea was being forgotten," he said.
Zelensky stressed today the Russians are following the same scenario.
"That is, they have constant leverage for bargaining. And Crimea is being moved away more and more. [Russian] Passportization has been ongoing in Crimea for many years – Crimean residents have always had both Ukrainian and Russian passports. Later, the annexation of Crimea took place under the pretext of protection of Russians. Donbas [occupation] followed, also to ensure that Crimea is 'forgotten.' The issuance of Russian passports is underway in Donbas – about 300,000 have already been distributed," the president said.
Zelensky is convinced for Russia, it is necessary now to raise the stakes to bargain for Donbas, to push for pardon for terrorists, to retain control over the results of local elections, etc.
According to the president, the Nord Stream 2 project is Russia's "trump card."
"In reality, they have Royal Flush – moreover, which is also partially supported by Europe. If they complete the construction of Nord Stream 2, it will threaten energy security of Ukraine and Europe. Russia will definitely switch us off. Yes, we do have a contract. By the way, thanks to Germany and France, in the Normandy format we have agreed that this contract be valid for five years. And almost two have already passed of these five years. This contract will terminate in three years. If they complete the technical part of Nord Stream 2 this year, it will be launched in two to three years. And we know what will happen then. All this is bein done to deprive Ukraine of such contract in the future. Or rather, they use this lever already in the Donbas issue," he added.
Read also Biden explains why U.S. not to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 Previous developments
The Joe Biden Administration has waived sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, the corporate entity in charge of the construction of Russia's Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline into Germany, and its CEO Matthias Warnig, dubbed by media as an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the Department of State on May 19, 2021, submitted a report to Congress pursuant to the Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act (PEESA), as amended, listing four vessels, five entities, and one individual involved in construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, including Nord Stream 2 AG and the company's CEO Matthias Warnig. Persons identified in the report are subject to sanctions pursuant to PEESA unless waived.
As a result of such sanctions on the entities listed in the PEESA report, the four vessels listed in the report and nine additional vessels owned or controlled by the Federal State Budgetary Institution Marine Rescue Service that are involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline's construction, will also be subject to sanctions.
Nord Stream 2: Background
- The Nord Stream 2 project envisages the construction and operation of two gas pipeline branches with a total throughput capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. It should connect Russia's Ust-Lug and Germany's Greifswald.
- This new pipeline bypassing Ukraine is to be built next to the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline. The construction of the pipeline was expected to be completed before the end of 2019. The pipeline will be 1,220 km long.
- Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom is the founder of Nord Stream 2 AG.
- The project is being financed by European companies – France's ENGIE, Austria's OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Germany's Uniper and Wintershall.
- Ukraine stands against the construction of Nord Stream 2 as it will most likely lose its status of a gas transit country, while its potential revenue losses are estimated at US$3 billion annually. The project is also highly criticized by the U.S., Poland, and the Baltic States.
- The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has already been completed by more than 90%.
- The United States has imposed a series of sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and has repeatedly called on European allies and private companies to stop the related works.
- On January 7, 2021, a fund was established in Germany to support the completion of the Nord Stream 2 project.
- Eighteen companies have already refused to participate in the project or are planning to do so because of the sanctions.
- On February 6, 2021, Nord Stream 2 AG announced it would continue to lay the pipes as part of the project.
- On March 14, 2021, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said that Europe did not need the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Despite this, Germany continues to insist on the completion of the project.
- On March 19, 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 to immediately halt laying pipes, threatening new sanctions.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline a trap for all countries across Europe.
- On April 20, 2021, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Ukraine should remain a transit country for Russian gas to Europe, despite Germany's decision to complete the construction of the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
- In early May, Germany's Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) and Deutsche Umwelthilfe (Environmental Action Germany) filed a lawsuit with the Hamburg Administrative Court against the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Germany's exclusive economic zone.
- On May 17, 2021, Germany allowed the construction of Nord Stream 2 to continue in its waters.