Russia’s gas export monopoly announced on Friday that construction of a controversial pipeline to Europe was complete, marking the end of a multi-year geopolitical war that weighs on US-German relations and as a test of US resolve amid heightened tensions with the Kremlin.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea, will double the amount of Russian natural gas exported directly to Germany.
US officials in three presidential administrations have opposed Nord Stream 2 pronounced because they feared it would strengthen Moscow’s economic and political power in Europe.
The project will allow Russia to bypass a transit system that runs through Ukraine and has handled gas supplies for decades. Ukrainian officials have lobbied Nord Stream 2 for years because they feared it would weaken Kiev’s position in its ongoing war against Russia. “With Nord Stream 2, Russia is achieving its long-awaited goal of reshaping the European gas market,” said Ukrainian energy minister German Galushchenko.
Gazprom announced the completion of the pipeline via the Telegram messaging application on Friday and said it would that the chairman
broke the news at a company staff meeting.
A spokeswoman for Nord Stream 2 AG, the Swiss-registered Russian pipeline company that manages the pipeline, confirmed the announcement, saying it was connecting two trunks of the pipeline was carried out in German waters early on Friday. In a statement, Nord Stream 2 AG said the pipeline “will help meet the European energy market’s long-term demand for gas imports and improve safe and reliable gas supplies”.
The company aims to deliver gas to Germany by the end of the year begin, it says in the declaration. The pipeline must be certified prior to use. German and Russian officials have labeled the pipeline a commercial venture advancing energy security for Europe. US resistance to the project intensified after 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, which is Ukrainian territory, and began supporting a rebellion in eastern Ukraine. 2019 former president
signed a bill providing a legal framework for sanctions against the pipeline efforts and halting construction of Nord Stream 2 for more than a year. Construction resumed shortly after President Biden took office this year. In May, Mr. Biden waived the US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG and its CEO.
To strengthen relations with Berlin, Mr. Biden forged an agreement with Germany in July, renouncing Washington’s longstanding opposition to the pipeline and ended years of speculation about their fate. Germany agreed to help Ukraine with energy-related projects and diplomacy. A spokesman for the German embassy in Washington did not want to comment on the completion of the pipeline.
“I am disappointed that nothing more has been done to stop the completion of the pipeline, but our efforts have
Accountability needs to be maintained through the full implementation of the sanctions legislation that I co-wrote, ”said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.), who co-authored Nord Stream 2 sanctions laws. “The US has no reason to believe that Putin will obey the rules, and there are no assurances that Russia will not use this pipeline as a weapon. The US must act accordingly and take concrete steps, including additional sanctions, to prevent Nord Stream 2 from operating. ”
The government has maintained public opposition to the pipeline as it has removed obstacles to its completion .
The construction completion announcement on Friday comes two days after Mr Biden appointed a Nord Stream 2 critic, Robin Dunnigan, to oversee Central and Eastern European policies at the State Department.