German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised she would press for sanctions against Russia if its government uses the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline “as a weapon.” The pipeline project links gas transmission between the two countries.
Newsmax reported on August 23 that Merkel’s comments followed a move by Russian President Vladimir Putin to impose new conditions on an extension of a gas transmission agreement with Ukraine, which desperately needs the economic benefit provided by the pipeline project. An alternative Baltic Sea pipeline that bypasses Ukraine would seriously impair that nation’s economy.
After meeting with the Ukrainian president on Sunday, Merkel said at a press conference that sanctions in a European framework would come if the pipeline is being used as a weapon. She added that the transmission agreement must be extended beyond 2024 as quickly as possible.
The Nord Stream 2 project focuses on the international political controversy, with the U.S. and much of the EU saying that the pipeline gives Russia too much leverage over Europe. The project raises continental dependence on Russia for energy production and threatens the fragile Ukrainian economy.
Last month, Merkel finalized a deal with President Joe Biden in which Biden promised to ease threats of sanctions if Germany committed to taking action against Russian pressure on Ukraine.
A joint press conference including Merkel and Putin on August 20 displayed the tension between the two nations. Putin laid out conditions on the transmission agreement, stating that any extension beyond 2024 depended on guaranteed demand from Europe.
Russia has cut supplies through Ukraine two times in the last 15 years because of financial and political disputes. These interruptions have come at times of heavy demand and were highly damaging to the Ukrainian economy.
Ukraine has worked with Germany to develop hydrogen production to help Ukraine become more independent of Russia in recent years.
Merkel’s announcement followed Germany’s agreement with the U.S. to promote investments in a $1 billion Green Fund for Ukraine’s efforts to transition to cleaner energy sources. The fund would be a vehicle for compensating Ukraine for gas transmission fees lost if Russian gas bypasses the country.