The project to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream pipeline that supplies gas directly from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea has generated considerable controversy. Initiated by five European energy companies together with Gazprom in 2015, its timing was remarkable. It appeared to run counter to the EU’s efforts to diversify the sources of its energy imports while also disadvantaging Ukraine.
The purpose of the direct gas link between Russia and Germany was to reduce reliance on existing transit routes, including through Ukraine. In 2014, the EU had pledged to support Ukraine after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its destabilization of south-eastern Ukraine. The German government claimed that it was an ‘economic project’ but belatedly conceded that it had political aspects and that it was important to maintain gas flows through Ukraine.
US sanctions on the pipeline added to the controversy before the dramatic deterioration of relations between Moscow and Berlin over the Navalny poisoning led senior German officials to hint that Germany might change its position on Nord Stream 2. What is the outlook for the pipeline now? Will the strained relations between Russia and Germany lead to further delays in its completion? Does Berlin now accept that cheap Russian gas comes at a price?
Dr. Thomas W. O’Donnell, Adjunct Professor, Hertie School of Governance
Dr. Kirsten Westphal, Senior Associate, German Institute for International and Security Affairs
Chair: John Lough, Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House