US declares cooperation with Ukraine to block Nord Stream 2

Concrete-coated pipe for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline being laid onto the seabed of the Baltic Sea on August 16, 2018 near Lubmin, Germany. Photo: GettyImages/Sean Gallup/Staff

“We do not want our European friends to fall prey to the kind of political and economic manipulation Russia has attempted in Ukraine since it cast off its Soviet shackles,” said the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, declaring that the US will continue to work “to stop the Nord Stream 2 project, that undermines Ukraine’s strategic and economic security.”

In the Secretary of State’s opinion, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which would see Russian gas delivered directly to Germany and omitting the Baltic states and Poland, would result in “further compromise of the sovereignty of European nations that depend on Russian gas.”

For several months unofficial information has circulated that the US is ready to impose sanctions on companies involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, although no concrete action has been taken in this regard yet. Despite this, US president Donald Trump has long been a strong vocal opponent of the project, saying “Germany is paying Russia billions and billions of dollars, which, frankly speaking, we deem inappropriate. We never thought it was appropriate, and, certainly, this is very bad for the German people.”

Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko has also condemned the project which would see his country on the receiving end of potential energy blackmail from Moscow, calling the project “political bribe money for loyalty to Russia.” Following the annexation of Crimea, in 2014 and 2015 Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas monopolist which is also responsible for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, hiked prices and eventually cut off gas to Ukraine, citing Kiev’s inability to pay its debts to the company which, it said, was USD 4.5 bn (EUR 3.95 bn) in 2014.

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The Polish push to block the project

The Nord Stream 2 project is naturally supported by countries which would see their gas supplies from Russia not under threat, including Germany, France and Austria, while the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine, which would not be connected to the pipeline, are understandably against the idea.

Poland has taken to diversifying its energy resources to become less dependent on Russian gas, including signing a 24-year contract with the US for the delivery of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the construction of the Baltic pipeline which will see gas supplies delivered to central and eastern Europe directly from sources in Norway in an effort to reduce turbulence in energy supplies when its contract with Gazprom expires in 2022.

Despite these efforts, however, Poland continues to push its allies – including the US – to block the project, the most recent example of which took place at last Thursday’s Polish-Czech bilateral meeting, during which Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki urged his Czech counterpart Andrej Babiš to consider the threat the Nord Stream 2 pipeline posed.

“Our cooperation up to this point has brought better and better results in many areas. We are stronger and stronger, we speak with one voice. In this context I once again presented Poland’s position with regard to Nord Stream 2 and the need for the pipeline not to be built,” PM Morawiecki said.