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Ukraine: Nord Stream 2 Will “Weaken Europe”

The clearing of the final major hurdle ahead of the controversial Russia-led natural gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2 would weaken Europe and strengthen Russia, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Denmark granted the Gazprom-led project permission to build the pipeline through Danish territorial waters, which cleared the final major hurdle to the construction and start-up of the pipeline that has been dividing Europe and drawing criticism from the U.S. for years.

“This is a geopolitical issue, this strengthens Russia and weakens Europe,” Zelenskiy said at a briefing on Thursday, as carried by Reuters.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline—which is planned to twin the existing Nord Stream pipeline between Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea—is opposed by the European Union (EU) institutions and some EU members, not to mention U.S. lawmakers, as it would allow Russia to further boost its natural gas supplies to Europe.

Germany has argued that the project is a commercial matter, while Ukraine has been particularly vocal in its opposition to the pipeline, claiming the project will allow Russia to reroute the flow of its gas that currently runs through Ukraine, depriving it of transit fees that are vital for the country’s budget.

The U.S., several European countries, including the Baltic states and Poland, as well as the EU, have expressed concern about Russia using gas sales and its gas monopoly in Gazprom as a political tool.

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The United States sees the project as further undermining Europe’s energy security by giving the Russian gas giant another pipeline to ship its natural gas to European markets.  

Earlier this year, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill to impose sanctions on companies involved in the construction and laying of pipes for the Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The U.S. sanctions bill on Nord Stream 2 still has to pass Senate and House votes before landing at President Trump’s desk for him to sign into law. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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