On Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that the certification process for the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that connects Russia and Germany will be suspended. The move is a response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the breakaway republics in the Donbas and the deployment of Russian troops to the region.
“That sounds technical, but it is the necessary administrative step so there can be no certification of the pipeline and without this certification, Nord Stream 2 cannot begin operating,” Scholz said.
The German leader said Putin’s decision was “unjustified and incomprehensible” and called for a coordinated Western response. He said the German government will now reassess its energy needs. “The department of the German ministry of economics will reassess the security of our supply needs in light of what has taken place,” he said.
Germany relies on Russia for about 50 percent of its natural gas supply, and that number was set to increase once Nord Stream 2 was operational. The construction of the pipeline has already been completed, and the project is worth about $11 billion.
Ukraine, which stands to lose billions in natural gas transportation fees if the pipeline were to be approved, welcomed Scholz’s decision. “This is a morally, politically and practically correct step in the current circumstances,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia “regrets” the German decision and hopes it is only temporary. “It is to be hoped that such projects are hindered only for some time, due to various political reasons. The way we see it, this is wrong anyway,” he said.
Nord Stream 2 has long been in the crosshairs of hawks in Washington who discourage the potential increase in trade between Russia and Europe that the pipeline would bring.