Putin’s moves against Ukraine pushes Nord Stream 2 to the brink


Is Nord Stream 2 dead or just sleeping? It’s hard to say yet.

Catch up fast: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday froze certification of the gas pipeline from Russia under the Baltic Sea in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s moves against Ukraine.

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What we don’t know: The conditions under which Germany, which had long resisted pressure to abandon the big project, might revive the approval process for the pipeline that’s constructed but not yet in service.

  • “This is the opening salvo in a long game, but the odds for [Nord Stream 2] look pretty grim right now, “Nikos Tsafos of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said in an email exchange.

The intrigue: “One can make a case that says that there’s a value in not being more specific than the German authorities have been, up until this point, because it preserves tactical flexibility going forward,” Jonathan Elkind, a top Energy Department international affairs official in the Obama years, tells Axios.

  • Elkind, now with Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, said ambiguity has diplomatic benefits by giving Russia incentives to consider the economic benefits of the project.

What they’re saying: The Biden administration cheered Scholz’s move, as did European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

  • “We are still too dependent on Russian gas. We have to strategically diversify our suppliers and massively invest in renewables,” she said. tweeted.

Yes, but: Tsafos cautioned via Twitter that Europe’s energy security doesn’t get stronger even if Nord Stream 2 dies because Europe’s policy needs remain.

  • “Diversification of supply, ensuring infrastructure redundancy, stronger regulation of markets, a real strategy for seasonal balancing, faster decarbonization – none of those things rest on NS2,” he notes.

Go deeper: Russia-Ukraine crisis opens new era of petro politics

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