Germany may block Nord Stream 2 if Russia attacks Ukraine: press
Germany is prepared to block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine, German chancellor Olaf Scholz said on January 18, according to Reuters.
Scholz was responding to increasing domestic and international pressure amid a Russian military build-up on Ukraine's border. Russia is understood to have amassed a force of more than 100,000 troops, and Ukraine and the US warn that an attack could be imminent.
"It is clear that there will be a high price to pay and that everything will have to be discussed should there be a military intervention in Ukraine," Scholz told reporters after meeting NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.
Nord Stream 2 is complete, but will not be allowed to flow any gas until German regulators have finished the process of deciding whether its operator should be certified. The process is expected to drag on into the second half of the year.
Meanwhile, Europe faces one of its worst ever energy crises, and Germany has shut down three of its six nuclear reactors. Given Ukraine's importance as a transit route for Russian gas bound for Europe, tensions between Kyiv and Moscow have driven up gas prices, already at a record high due to a sharp rebound in demand this year and supply constraints.
Russian supply has been constrained since September, and slumped 41% year on year in the first half of January, stoking fears of gas shortages this year. The Yamal-Europe pipeline has been flowing gas in reverse, eastwards from Germany to Poland, for nearly a month now instead of pumping Russian supplies westwards. It usually delivers one-sixth of Russia’s annual gas exports to Europe and Turkey.
Russia has denied accusations that it is withholding gas supplies, but has not offered another explanation for why its supplies have dipped recently. Some analysts have indicated that the country may be at its maximum production capacity.
After talks with Russia broke off last week, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will visit Kyiv on January 19 and then head to Berlin to discuss "joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine" with German, UK and French officials.