The head of the Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz, Yuriy Vitrenko, fears that once the new Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline has been commissioned, Russian gas will no longer be routed through his country.

"We are 100 percent sure that Nord Stream 2 has the sole purpose of shutting down Ukraine in gas transit," he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Referring to the Russian troop deployment on the border, he said Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin was preparing a military invasion.

"And he wants to make sure that there are no negative consequences for trade with Europe."

Politically explosive situation

This Monday, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) is traveling to Kiev and Moscow for inaugural visits amid the crisis between Russia and Ukraine.

Nord Stream 2 will also be an important topic.

The state-owned company Naftogaz operates the 38,000-kilometer-long gas network through Ukraine, which has so far also transported Russian gas to Central Europe.

Until the end of 2024, the financially strapped ex-Soviet republic will earn the equivalent of over a billion euros a year from transit.

Moscow's goal is to eliminate this transit, Vitrenko said.

Commitments to extend existing transit contracts did not change that.

In the event of a Russian invasion, there would be no more lines through Ukraine, he said.

"The first bombs will be aimed at the pipelines."

Not operational yet

Nord Stream 2 is completed but not yet operational.

Many of Germany's allies fear that this will increase dependence on Russian gas.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) recently emphasized that it was a commercial, not a political project.

Vitrenko said: "The only economic logic is that Putin can punish Ukraine for its pro-European vote." Germany, where the Nord Stream pipeline ends, also benefits from this.

"For me, from a moral point of view, it's hard to accept."

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