Nord Stream-2 against Ukraine. What Zelensky and Merkel agreed on

Nord Stream2

The negotiations between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ended in Berlin on Tuesday.

Construction of Nord Stream-2 may be completed in August. In September 2021, Angela Merkel will step down as head of the German government.

The Ukrainian side sought to achieve in Berlin a few fundamental things, focused on the future.

First, that Nord Stream 2 should be recognized by Germany as a security issue for Ukraine and Europe, and not just an economic project of the energy giants.

Secondly, that the consequences of launching this controversial gas in the discussion in the “Norman format”.

Third, the Ukrainian delegation convinced its German counterparts that the Ukrainian GTS remains an attractive business project for Europe, even if “Nord Stream-2” becomes operational from 2022.

Disappointment or warranty

Angela Merkel believes that Ukraine should remain transit of gas even after the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline.

By 2024, Russia has pledged to transport its gas through the Ukrainian territory. This year, it is converted to transit 40 billion cubic meters of gas.

According to various estimates, after the launch of Nord Stream-2, transit through Ukrainian territory may be reduced by 40-80%.

The current gas agreement between Ukraine and Russia was signed in December 2019 with the mediation of the European Commission and with the assistance of Germany. This time, Zelensky admitted in Berlin that such assistance is not enough when it comes to the possibility of losing the lion’s share of transit after the launch of another pipeline.

“We have few such guarantees, because the subjects of the negotiations are the Russian Federation. If we are talking about energy security, then we must have guarantees from the European Union, guarantees from Germany and France,” the president said.

At a joint press conference with him, Angela Merkel assured that the guarantees will be: “We will achieve this. We promised it. I keep my promises. And this applies to every German chancellor.”

On July 15, German leader will meet with American President Joe Biden in Washington. In negotiations with Ukrainians, she promised to work out guarantees in conjunction with the United States. It also noted that the energy can be discussed in the Normandy fields, but the Minsk agreements do not include the issues of Nord Stream-2.

The current US administration has removed sanctions against the North Stream-2 operator company Nord Stream 2 AG and its Matthias Varnig’s expectations in May this year, motivating this need to improve the relations with the EU and Germany. Merkel 

“There are risks that Ukraine will be disconnected from gas, gas transit and gas in general. Therefore, the temporarily occupied territory of Donbass may not receive gas, and this is a question of security guarantees in those territories that all participants of the Normandy format took it upon themselves”,- Zelensky said on a conference.

“Attractive business case”

At the talks in Berlin, the Ukrainian delegation assured that Ukraine has something that the Russians do not have. This is the operational flexibility of the Ukrainian system of gas pipelines and gas storage facilities, reliability and compliance with the requirements of EU energy legislation.

Ukraine’s largest gas storage facilities are located on its western borders, which allows for a rapid increase in gas pumping to Europe. In addition, the Ukrainian GTS transports gas for both export and domestic consumption, which also allows for a rapid increase in supplies to European countries.

Russian transit gas pipelines: Nord Stream-1 and Nord Stream-2 run along the seabed and do not have such flexibility. They need more time to maneuver with supply volumes.

In case of partial or complete refusal of Ukrainian transit, problems with gas supplies will also arise in Poland, Slovakia and Italy. Ukraine has potential allies in countering Nord Stream-2. Merkel 

In addition, the German elections in September may give Ukraine hope after many disappointments. levant

by: Tetiana Bazanova levant