Kiev and Warsaw intend to take joint measures to prevent the launch of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. This was agreed upon during the talks held on the eve of the Foreign Ministers of Poland and Ukraine, Jacek Czaputovich and Dmitry Kuleba. 

As noted in the message of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, the parties discussed interaction in the energy sector and the role that Ukraine and Poland play in ensuring the energy security of Europe. The ministers noted the need to develop partnership within the framework of the trilateral memorandum of cooperation in the energy sector, signed in 2019 by representatives of the United States, Ukraine and Poland.

"Dmitry Kuleba and Jacek Czaputovich stressed that the Russian project Nord Stream 2 poses a threat to the energy security of all of Europe and agreed to take further steps to prevent its implementation," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

  • Foreign Ministers of Poland and Ukraine Jacek Czaputovich and Dmitry Kuleba
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  • © DmytroKuleba

As a reminder, a trilateral agreement on strengthening energy security in the region was signed on August 31, 2019 by US Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Danilyuk and Plenipotentiary Envoy of the Polish Government for Strategic Infrastructure Petr Naimsky.

The authors of the document refer to their support for the principles of Euro-Atlantic and European solidarity, as well as the "practice of malicious actors", including Russia. The latter allegedly use energy resources as "a means of political and economic coercion," the memorandum says.

Speaking at a press conference on the signing of the memorandum, Pyotr Naimsky announced an increase in American gas supplies through Polish territory to Ukraine to 6 billion cubic meters. m per year from 1.5 billion.

Gas flow

Simultaneously with the increase in US LNG supplies to the Ukrainian and Polish markets, Kiev, Warsaw and Washington are fighting against the Russian-German project "Nord Stream 2".

Over the past years, Washington has been calling on the European participants in the project to abandon cooperation with Moscow. US officials say the launch of Nord Stream 2 will undermine Europe's energy security. 

In 2019, the United States imposed sanctions on companies involved in laying the Russian-German gas pipeline. The corresponding measures were included in the US defense budget signed by Donald Trump.

Under pressure from the American authorities, the Swiss company Allseas, which laid the subsea elements of Nord Stream 2, withdrew from the project. At the time of the imposition of the sanctions, about 2,300 km of the pipeline had already been laid out of about 2,460 km. Jens Müller, the official representative of Nord Stream 2 AG, told reporters about this. 

As Russian President Vladimir Putin announced after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russia will be able to lay the remaining 160 km of the pipeline on its own.

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In May, the Russian pipelayer Akademik Chersky arrived at the logistics terminal of the Nord Stream 2 project in the German port of Mukran, and the ship left the port of Nakhodka in February.

Pipelay work may resume on 3 August. On this day, a four-week period will expire for filing an appeal against the decision of the Danish Energy Agency (DEA), which allowed Russian ships to work in the Danish waters.

According to the industry agency ICIS, if the work starts on the specified date, the project may be completed in September this year.

At the same time, Washington is preparing new sanctions against Nord Stream 2. The next restrictions are laid down in the draft defense budget for the 2021 financial year approved by the House of Representatives of the Congress. 

As Igor Yushkov, a leading expert of the National Energy Security Fund, explained in an interview with RT, after August 3, the pipelayers Fortuna and Akademik Chersky will work in tandem.

Barge Fortuna has previously operated with Nord Stream 2. Fortuna will cook the pipes, and Chersky will lay them, ”the expert noted.

Vyacheslav Kulagin, director of the Center for the Study of World Energy Markets at the Institute for Energy Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences, expressed a similar assessment in a commentary on RT.

“In accordance with the plan, the work should be completed this year,” he explained.

Late claims

Poland and Ukraine actively support US efforts against Nord Stream 2. Kiev believes that the launch of a new gas pipeline bypassing Ukrainian territory will deprive Ukraine of revenues from the transit of Russian fuel to Europe.  

In addition, the Ukrainian side is convinced that Russia should compensate Ukraine for the losses incurred by the latter due to the launch of alternative gas transportation routes - Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream. Kiev determined its damage at $ 12 billion, the corresponding claim was filed with the Stockholm Arbitration Court by the Ukrainian side in early 2019. 

At the same time, Kiev and Moscow still managed to agree on the terms of a new contract for the transit of gas to Europe, which replaced the transit agreement that expired at the end of 2019. The new agreement was signed in December and the agreement is for five years. One of the terms of the contract was Kiev's refusal of claims against Gazprom. 

As Sergey Makogon, the head of the Ukrainian GTS Operator, said in an interview with the Ukrainian edition of in April 2020, Ukraine is ready to completely stop transit, but it does not intend to stop its fight against Nord Stream 2.

"Guides of American Interests"

Poland is making no less effort to counter Nord Stream 2. Last year, Warsaw and Kiev considered the possibility of jointly starting legal proceedings with Berlin to stop the construction of a Russian-German gas pipeline. This was stated in November 2019 by the Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture, Trade Representative of Ukraine Taras Kachka. 

Earlier, Warsaw won a lawsuit in the European Court of Justice against the provision of all capacities of the OPAL gas pipeline to Gazprom. The pipeline is an onshore continuation of the Nord Stream. In 2016, the European Commission allowed Gazprom to use the entire volume of OPAL, and not just 50%, as provided for by the Third Energy Package.

According to Igor Yushkov, this litigation became an example of how Poland is trying to interfere with the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project.

  • Andrzej Duda and Donald Trump
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“However, the EU antitrust legislation concerns only the volumes of pumped gas, but does not apply to the construction site itself. Therefore, the question of using the Third Energy Package will arise after the completion of the gas pipeline. But in any case, first it is necessary to complete the construction of Nord Stream 2, the expert believes.

The Polish authorities fully share the US demand to stop the construction of the second branch of the Nord Stream. Counteractionthe Russian-German project wasone of the topics of the talks between Polish President Andrzej Duda and the head of the White House Donald Trump, held in September 2019. As a result of the conversation, both politicians came to the conclusion that Nord Stream 2 is "a threat to the energy security of Europe."

In March 2020, the head of the Polish Foreign Ministry, Jacek Czaputovich, said that Nord Stream 2 was supposedly capable of undermining European solidarity and energy security.

“The pipeline will have negative political and economic consequences for the EU and will increase our dependence on an unreliable supplier - Gazprom. This will lead to a quasi-monopoly of one contractor and the only supply route, ”the minister said in an interview with RBC.

At the same time, Warsaw itself did not begin this year to renegotiate the contract in force since the early 1990s for the transit of Russian fuel to Germany via the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline. Now transit is carried out on the basis of the results of the auctions at which the Polish side sells the free capacity of the pipeline. 

According to Vyacheslav Kulagin, Warsaw's decision not to renew the contract was dictated by political considerations.

“But it was precisely this decision that allowed Gazprom to cut transit through the Europe-Yamal gas pipeline. And this, in turn, also made Warsaw want to block a competing project - Nord Stream 2. But Poland and Ukraine do not have any levers of influence, tools to do this, ”the expert emphasized.

Yuri Yushkov also said in an interview with RT that Kiev and Warsaw cannot influence Nord Stream 2.

“Ukraine can only provide information support to the United States, and Poland has no tools either. The only thing she can do is to appeal the Danish decision by 3 August. It is possible that the Polish side will submit such an application at the very last moment in order to delay the process. But still, the main threat to the project comes from the United States, which is imposing sanctions against European companies, ”the expert explained.

According to Yushkov, in this issue Warsaw proceeds solely from political considerations.

“The Poles are simply acting as agents of American interests in Europe. This is the only logic that the Polish authorities are guided by when opposing Nord Stream 2. Well, Kiev pays such attention to this project for economic reasons - Ukraine will cease to be an almost uncontested gas transit country to Europe, ”the expert summed up.