German government halts approval for Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline
In response to the escalating situation with Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, the German government has suspended the approval process for the much-disputed Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline until further notice.
Germany halts gas pipeline in response to Russian military action
The German federal government is moving to impose sanctions against Russia following President Vladimir Putin’s decision to move troops into eastern Ukraine. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed on Tuesday that he had asked the Federal Ministry of Economics to take the necessary steps so that the gas pipeline could not be certified for the time being. “Without this certification, Nord Stream 2 cannot go into operation,” he said.
Although the chancellor had previously seemed hesitant to pull the plug on the controversial project, Scholz said at a press conference in Berlin that Russia’s actions in recent days meant that the “situation is now a different one.” He condemned Putin’s decision to recognise the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states and send Russian troops into eastern Ukraine as part of a “peacekeeping mission”, describing it as a serious breach of international law.
The Ukrainian head of state Volodymyr Zelenskyj previously called for the “immediate” stop of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, asking for countries around the world to impose sanctions in response to the “new aggressive action against Ukraine… These sanctions must include the complete halt of Nord Stream 2.”
Why is Nord Stream 2 so controversial?
The nearly-completed pipeline has been the subject of much controversy practically since its inception. The energy infrastructure project, which would transport natural gas from Russia into the European Union, has been touted as a way to solve gas shortages and high prices for energy in Europe.
However, it has driven a wedge between the EU and America, with President Joe Biden criticising the pipeline as a too risky bargaining chip in relations with Russia. Biden previously insisted that, should Russia invade Ukraine, it would “bring an end” to Nord Stream 2.
Scholz has said that the German Ministry of Economic Affairs will now carry out a new assessment, taking into account “what has changed in the past few days.” According to the chancellor, “In this phase, it is now important, in addition to the first sanctions, to prevent further escalation and thus another catastrophe. That is what all our diplomatic efforts are aimed at.”