While Germany tries to make sure Ukraine will not suffer too badly from the addition of Nord Stream 2 to the European natural gas pipeline network, a senior State Department official has threatened sanctions for the controversial project.
Speaking to media in Berlin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Diplomacy Sandra Oudkirk said Washington deemed the pipe as a security threat because it would give Russia the chance to install “undersea surveillance equipment” such as “listening devices” in the Baltic. Oudkirk did not go into detail about the surveillance equipment that she suspected Russia might put on the seabed.
What she did make a point of noting was that the threat of sanctions was motivated by Washington’s strong desire to curb Russia’s influence in Europe and had nothing to do with the fact that U.S. LNG is one alternative to Russian gas. Oudkirk also said Washington did not believe there was a way to enforce guarantees for Ukraine’s transit fee revenues from current Russian pipeline exports to Russia.
These revenues have turned into a sticking point between Russia and Germany, with the latter showing genuine concern for Ukraine’s revenues, although it was clear from the beginning that an expanded Nord Stream would mean diverting part of current gas transit from Ukraine.
Europe has been very active in showing its support for gas transit revenue dependent Ukraine, although little of this support has been constructive, such as finding ways to generate other revenues besides those from transit fees. Besides, concern for Ukraine may be genuine, but it is not the single concern of all European countries when it comes to Nord Stream 2.
For Germany, Nord Stream 2 means more gas amid nuclear and coal power plant phasing out.
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