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German Chancellor Merkel tried to ease Ukraine’s concerns about the upcoming Beixi 2 pipeline, saying that Germany would not allow Russia to weaponize the natural gas corridor.
The construction of NS2 will transport Russian natural gas to Western Europe in the Baltic Sea. This is a particular concern of Kiev. If Moscow cuts off the supply through Ukraine, Kiev will lose US$2 billion in transit revenue. Opponents claim that the $11 billion pipeline has also increased Europe’s dependence on Russian energy exports.
“Natural gas cannot be used as a weapon,” Merkel said after meeting with Ukrainian President Zelensky in Kiev on Sunday. “If Russia uses this natural gas pipeline as a weapon, we will impose new sanctions,” she added, but did not elaborate.
Zelensky described NS2 as a “danger” to his country, saying that he wanted to “see what Ukraine will get… and who will provide specific guarantees for NS2.” “I am the president of a country at war… We think this project is a dangerous geopolitical weapon on the Kremlin side,” he added.
The Zelensky meeting was held two days after Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Moscow. She emphasized that Russia has signed a contract requiring it to continue to send natural gas through Ukraine by 2024, and insisted that the agreement “can and should be extended”.
Putin’s response was to call on Russia’s European partners to specify how much natural gas they want to buy from Russia after that date.
Merkel and the administration of President Joe Biden reached a truce on the project last month, and the United States opposed the project. As part of the agreement, Berlin promised to impose sanctions on Moscow if it uses NS2 to threaten Russia. Energy security of U.S. allies in the regionIt also pledged to set up a billion-dollar fund to help Ukraine transition to clean energy.
Merkel’s visit to Kiev is likely to be her last trip before stepping down as prime minister after the federal election next month.
Although Merkel’s CDU party has always firmly supported the pipeline, the conservative group’s candidate to succeed her as prime minister in September, Amin Raschelt, said that if Putin tries to use NS2 to pressure Ukraine, Germany may stop it. deliver.
The center-left Social Democratic Party also agreed to complete NS2, but the Green Party called for the complete abolition of this corridor on the grounds of environmental and geopolitical issues.
German supporters of NS2 believe that as the country phases out coal and shuts down nuclear power plants, a new pipeline is needed to support the country’s energy needs. Many industrial companies that need cheap electricity are also favored.
Merkel and Zelensky also discussed efforts to help promote green energy in Ukraine, and failed efforts to reach a comprehensive ceasefire with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and resolve the long-term war.
“Russia is a participant in this conflict,” Merkel said in an attack in Moscow. Although there is increasing evidence that it instigated and fueled the war, Moscow has denied involvement since 2014.
At a press conference with Merkel on Friday, Putin attributed the deadlock to Kiev and said: “The leaders of this country seem to have decided in principle to abandon the peaceful settlement of the situation.”