Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 11.05.2018
It has been over four years since Russia invaded Ukraine. Appeasement of Putin by the democratic West outside Ukraine has persisted, with the predictable result that Russian aggression has expanded. On May 10, the current German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, joined the appeasement chorus, went to Moscow, and had his very own “Munich 1938” moment. Maas took a policy position about the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project which contradicts that of his boss, Chancellor Angela Merkel. The German Foreign Minister failed to obtain any clarity from Russia about a future role for Ukraine with gas transit, as the German Chancellor directed. But Maas went ahead and gave his full support to Nord Stream 2 anyway.
Many more Europeans will die in Putin’s War if Nord Stream 2 goes ahead. Nord Stream 2 is political project and a hybrid warfare campaign of the Russian Federation against Ukrainian sovereignty and against European energy security. Nord Stream 2 is one of Putin’s weapons to divide and conquer Europe. The position of Russian propaganda is that Nord Stream 2 is a business enterprise with an economic purpose only – a patently false position. Germany Foreign Minister Heiko Maas gave his full support to this false “it’s just business” position. He paid no attention to the caution of Chancellor Merkel and the urgent warnings of the European Commission. “Is Nord Stream a private commercial project and does the federal government still stick to this opinion? I can answer ‘Yes’ to this question,” Maas said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said on April 10: “I made very clear that a Nord Stream 2 project is not possible without clarity on the future transit role of Ukraine.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov failed to provide that clarity at the May 10 meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Lavrov said that Ukraine gas transit “has to be economically feasible and not politically imposed” – which is a Russian way of saying “no.”
The entire purpose of Nord Stream 2 is to deny gas transit to Ukraine. It is a political project and not an economic one. Russia cannot possibly do what Chancellor Merkel is asking and “give clarity on the future transit role of Ukraine” because there will be no role. Chancellor Merkel provided an open opportunity for Germany to do the right thing and cancel Nord Stream 2, but Foreign Minister Maas sabotaged that chance in Moscow on May 10.
While German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was in Moscow giving a green light to Nord Stream 2, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Aachen hearing from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko why Nord Stream 2 should be given a red light. President Poroshenko told Chancellor Merkel – and French President Emmanuel Macron – that Nord Stream 2 “poses an extremely great danger: not only for Ukraine and not only financial one, I would like to note. It is a geostrategic danger and a danger to security as well.” The idea that Nord Stream 2 is only a business project is a false one. For Russia, the gas pipeline is a way to finance its war against Ukraine and Nord Stream 2 is in itself a campaign of Putin’s War against the West. President Poroshenko stated that the strategic goal of Ukraine is “to bring an impartial picture and prevent Russia from using Nord Stream 2 as an element of hybrid aggression, not only against Ukraine, but against Europe as a whole. I emphasize: we will do everything in our power.”
The position of Ukraine against Nord Stream 2 enjoys wide support in the European Union. In fact, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands stand alone in supporting the nefarious scheme by Russia’s corrupt monopoly Gazprom. The European Commission does not support the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project because it does not contribute to diversifying gas supplies to Europe. The Director-General of the Directorate-General for Energy within the European Commission, Dominique Ristori, said at a briefing in Kyiv on April 8 that Nord Stream 2 will violate the principles of transparency and free access of European consumers to energy sources. “When the pipeline is built, it will not be supported by the EU, and especially not by the European Commission,” said Dominique Ristori. The European Commission recognizes that the primary purpose of Nord Stream 2 is economic warfare against Ukraine: to deny gas transit revenue to Ukraine and harm the Ukrainian economy.
The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) in Poland has initiated proceedings against Gazprom and five international entities responsible for financing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. This was announced on May 9 before German Foreign Minister Maas was in Moscow. UOKiK determined in 2016 that the planned concentration between Gazprom and five international companies could lead to restriction of competition. Poland is picking up the anti-monopoly proceedings against Gazprom and its co-conspirators Engie (Switzerland), Uniper, OMV, Shell, and Wintershall (all- the Netherlands) after the European Union inexplicably dropped the solid case it was building in 2015.
Germany is a guarantor of the the Minsk Agreement. Russia is violating the Minsk Agreement every single day as it bombards Ukrainian defenders and civilians with heavy artillery that is forbidden by the terms of the accord. Germany should be escalating sanctions against Russian individuals and entities for violating the Minsk Agreement. Instead, the Federal Foreign Office – now under Heiko Maas as Foreign Minister – is doing nothing about Russian transgressions and is encouraging greater Russian aggression by supporting Nord Stream 2.
It’s not too late to stop Nord Stream 2. It’s not too late to cut off financing for Putin’s war machine, save the lives of Europeans in Ukraine, and rescue energy security and diversity in the European Union. Germany cannot be an honest guarantor of the Minsk Agreement and an honourable member of the European Union if it supports the wicked Nord Stream 2 scheme.