• For several weeks, Westerners have been threatening to block the launch of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is supposed to transport a large quantity of gas from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea.

  • The non-commissioning of this gas pipeline would have economic consequences for Russia and could discourage it from invading Ukraine where one of its terrestrial gas pipelines passes.

  • This decision nevertheless has negative repercussions for European countries that are highly dependent on Russia for energy.

Since the start of the escalation of tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukrainian question, threats of sanctions have been raining down.

If Russia no longer counts them, one of them regularly comes to the fore: the blocking of the launch of Nord Stream 2. This name, which makes one think of the sequel to an American blockbuster, is the one given to an undersea gas pipeline project.

Two long and wide pipes allowing the transport of gas between Russia and Germany by the Baltic Sea and on which diplomatic stakes have always weighed.

We explain to you why the commissioning or not of Nord Stream 2 represents one of the main levers to prevent the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

What is the situation today ?

On December 7, while Russia is increasing the pressure on the Ukrainian border by organizing a major military exercise, the United States released the Nord Stream 2 map. American national security adviser Jake Sullivan declared: "If Vladimir Putin wants the future Nord Stream 2 to carry gas, he may not take the risk of invading Ukraine.

This is therefore a "lever" available to Westerners.

A lever, because this gas pipeline is the means for Russia to transport 55 billion cubic meters of gas to Germany each year.

A still conditional source of income because if the project is finished and ready for use, it is not yet in service.

The latter is awaiting a final authorization from the German authorities.

However, the German authorities have for the time being sided with the Americans.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz assured that there would be "clear consequences" for the pipeline in the event of an invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, namely its shutdown.

A repeated commitment before the American senators at the beginning of January.

And even if Berlin did not honor this commitment, President Joe Biden promised that the United States was ready to end the gas pipeline itself, by cutting off the underwater infrastructure.

Why has Nord Stream 2 always been a key diplomatic issue?

This is not the first time that the United States has wanted to prevent the launch of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Between 2017 and 2019, the United States government repeatedly threatened companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 construction project with economic sanctions. , including the French Engie and the Anglo-Dutch Shell.

The reason is simple: this project will make Europeans even more dependent on Russia and therefore increase the power of Moscow.

In July 2018, Donald Trump then President of the United States had launched: “Germany is a prisoner of Russia.

It pays billions of dollars to Russia for its energy supplies, and we have to pay to protect it from Russia.

It is not fair.

»

But the dependence of Europeans and the influence of Russia linked to the establishment of Nord Stream 2 were already not the only problems put forward by the detractors of the gas pipeline.

The question of Ukraine was already hovering.

Currently, Russia supplies Europe with gas via various overland pipelines that pass through border countries such as Poland and Ukraine.

Kiev derives income from the right of transit, but also the guarantee of a certain security: Russia is not going to attack a country in which some of its key infrastructures are located for its economic development... Unless it could supply Europe without going through these countries.

Hence the birth of the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines, which pass through the seabed.

For the time being, Russia therefore remains dependent on the countries through which its gas pipelines pass.

What scenario to consider for the future?

For now, the launch of Nord Stream 2 is suspended.

The decision will first be in the hands of the Germans since it is up to them to give the final authorization for start-up.

However, the German Federal Network Agency declared in mid-December that the decision on the certification of the gas pipeline would not fall before mid-2022.

Then, the European Commission will also have to decide on the approval.

Our file on Ukraine

If the non-commissioning of Nord Stream 2 is problematic for the Russians, it is also problematic for the Europeans, who are very dependent on energy.

In the event of sanctions against Moscow, the Kremlin could also suspend gas deliveries, which would add even more fuel to the fire of soaring prices.

Europeans would then have to find alternatives.

The United States has raised the possibility of Qatar, its close ally in the Gulf, supplying Western European countries.

The US government has also spoken with various international energy companies about possible additional deliveries if needed.

For its part, Japan has announced that it will deliver to Europe some of its imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Finally, the European Commissioner for Energy,

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  • Diplomacy

  • energy

  • United States

  • gas pipeline

  • Conflict

  • Ukraine

  • World

  • Gas

  • Russia

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