German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said that the nation will be withdrawing certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline after Russia recognised the breakway Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine, committing troops early this morning for “peacekeeping” activities.
The pipeline, which has not yet begun operations, is intended to transport natural gas from Russia to northern Germany. Though concerns have previously been raised by the US and other European states over the increased reliance on Russia’s energy sources, Germany has until now been hesitant to impose any sanctions that would impact the project.
Speaking to the press today however, Scholz said that “the situation today is fundamentally different and therefore, in light of recent events, we must also reassess this situation … with regard to Nord Stream 2”.
“Today, I asked the economy ministry to withdraw the existing report on the analysis of supply security,” he added, saying that the document is a crucial part of the certification process, and without it the project cannot proceed any further.
The decision follows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier today calling for the pipeline to be suspended “immediately”.
The news of Russia’s incursion comes after months of speculation that an invasion was imminent, and while Russia said that the military presence would be for the purpose of peacekeeping, the measure has been met with opposition and concerns over its escalation into armed conflict.
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EU nations, as well as the US, have said they will impose sanctions against Russia in response to the move, with representatives from EU nations expected to meet today to discuss next steps.
Natural gas prices have already jumped as a result of Germany’s suspension of Nord Stream 2, with Brent crude approaching $100 a barrel. Despite the delay, the Nord Stream 1 and Yamal pipelines connecting Russia with mainland Europe remain up and running, with President Vladimir Putin pledging that Russia would continue to supply gas unabated to Europe in spite of rising tensions. However, the Yamal pipeline has been running in reverse for the past 10 weeks, driving up Europe’s gas prices as a result.