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    Kremlin 'in the dark' about Western NS2 agreements

Summary

US and Germany are said to have reached an agreement on how to maintain pressure on Russia in the European energy market.

by: Daniel Graeber

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Kremlin 'in the dark' about Western NS2 agreements

The spokesman for Russian president Vladimir Putin said July 21 that the Kremlin has no information on agreements made by Western states over Nord Stream 2. Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying his office is only vaguely aware of Western discussions.

Reuters reported that the US and German governments agreed to take action against Russia should it politicise its energy foothold in the European market through the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. This could include varying the amount of capacity onshore in Germany, as has been the case with the OPAL route. Gazprom has refused to hold a gas release programme and so is not in compliance with European energy competition law. 

Nord Stream is a twin pipeline system that sends Russian natural gas to the European market through the Baltic Sea to Germany. Nord Stream 1 is fully operational carring 55bn m³/yr while the second line. Nord Stream 2, is nearly completed. It follows a similar route and will carry the same volume.

Peskov said: "We know that a certain understanding has been reached between Berlin and Washington DC. But we don't have any details."

The pipeline has a political component in that it anchors Russia’s position in the European energy sector. Russian gas company Gazprom, the major shareholder in pipeline company Nord Stream 2, could use its position as both a producer and deliverer for political gain.

US president Joe Biden said during a recent meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel that Russia should not weaponise the pipeline.

Germany has shown unwavering support for Nord Stream 2 over the years, despite simmering tensions with the Kremlin over the poisoning of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny last year. Merkel said the pipeline is less about European energy security and more about ensuring a pro-Western government in Ukraine maintains access to the gas transit revenue from the vast network of Soviet-era pipelines running through its territory.

The US, meanwhile, argues that the pipeline jeopardises European energy security, although Russia claims it is only protecting the interests of its competing LNG exporters. Washington has been reluctant to press its case further, however, as Nord Stream 2 is slated for completion in August.