Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 06.03.2018
Bully Russia went into a fight with Ukraine and is coming out of the scrap with a bloody nose. Using Gazprom as a weapon of its war against Ukraine, Russia did three things. Gazprom announced it would not respect the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal award to Ukraine of $2.56 billion dollars; it said it would break all of its contracts with Ukraine’s Naftogaz; it reduced the pressure on delivery of natural gas pipelines transiting Ukraine below the contractually-obligated level.
With these steps, Muscovy expected Ukraine – the country it is invading and partially occupying – to capitulate. The Putin regime expected Ukraine to fail to meet its transit commitments to down-the-pipeline customers in Moldova and the European Union, and pass on the consequences of the rule-breaking by Muscovy. Instead, the Ukrainian government, Naftogaz, and the Ukrainian people showed unity and fortitude in the face of Russia’s gas war attack. Naftogaz signed a contract with Poland’s PGNiG for diversity of natural gas supply to Ukraine; Ukrainians undertook massive conservation measures and achieved a 14% reduction in domestic natural gas consumption right away; Naftogaz tapped strategic reserves of natural gas, without putting supply to the end of the winter season at risk. The result of these heroic efforts was that Ukraine is honouring EU gas transit commitments despite Russia’s failure to maintain pipeline pressure.
Russia’s gas war against Ukraine failed. The consequences of Putin’s mistake and failure is that Ukraine’s earned a sterling reputation as a dependable partner for transit and supply of natural gas to Europe is bolstered. Russia’s reputation is ruined. On March 6, Naftogaz of Ukraine sent a message on Twitter: “We delivered all transit gas to EU in the middle of #gas crisis created by #failing @GazpromEN despite pressure below contract #2dot56.”
The European Union, and especially Germany, should pay attention to what has actually happened in the gas war started by Russia. The lesson to be learned is that Russia is a bad faith partner, Gazprom is a weapon of war, and the Putin regime will regularly cut off natural gas as an instrument of state policy.
Nord Stream 2 would be a natural gas pipeline from Russia, through the Baltic Sea, to Germany. It is intended to bypass transit pipelines in Ukraine, deprive the Ukrainian state of a large amount of revenue, and help the Russian invaders destroy and dismantle Ukraine. Nord Stream 2 is also intended to destroy the energy security of the European Union, weaken diversity of natural gas supply, increase dependence on Russia, and wreck the rules-based order of natural gas transit and supply – as Russia demonstrates by showing contempt for the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal.
Germany does yet want to admit that Nord Stream 2 is doomed. But it is only by ignoring the facts of Russia’s four year old invasion of Europe in Ukraine and Russia’s just started gas war against Europe in Ukraine that Germany can persist in saying Nord Stream 2 is a good thing. Nord Stream 2 is a disaster. It is a dagger to the heart of German economic might. Nord Stream 2 is a betrayal of the ideals that founded post-World War II democratic Germany and of the European Union. Nord Stream 2 is a choice for Russian imperialist aggression against European peace and security.
Events are moving rapidly. Since the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal award to Ukraine’s Naftogaz on February 28, Russia has launched a gas war against Ukraine, against the EU, and ultimately against its own Nord Stream 2 scheme. In the past days, Ukraine has proved to be a good faith partner and a guarantor of Europe’s energy security. Russia has shown itself to be a mortal enemy who will always use natural gas as a weapon of war.
Nord Stream 2 is dead. Russia killed it. Now it’s up to Germany to bury the corpse.