German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says his country is putting the certifying process for the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia on hold in reaction to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
Mr. Scholz told reporters on February 22 that he had asked for the suspension of the review process by a German regulator for the $11 billion pipeline, which is designed to delivery natural gas to Germany from Russia via the Baltic Sea.
“That sounds technical, but it is the necessary administrative step so there can be no certification of the pipeline,” he said. “And without this certification, Nord Stream 2 cannot begin operating.”
It was not immediately clear how long this would delay the start of operation of the pipeline or when the certification process might resume. The pipeline has been finished but has not begun operations as it awaited final certification.
The pipeline has long been opposed by the United States and some European countries, who say it would increase Europe’s reliance on Russian energy supplies.
Washington has also said it will cause economic harm to Kyiv, enabling Moscow to reroute gas exports around Ukraine, depriving the country of billions of dollars a year in transit fees.
Mr. Scholz said his government had decided to “reassess” the certification of the pipeline in light of the latest developments.
“That will certainly take time, if I may say so,” he said.
U.S. President Joe Biden has said that, if Russia invades Ukraine, “then there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. I promise you, we will bring an end to it.”
In comments earlier on February 22, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanded that the pipeline project be shut down in view of Russia’s move to recognize two separatist regions in his country as independent states and to send troops to the territory.
Mr. Zelenskyy said Russia must be punished for its actions with “immediate sanctions” that include “the complete stop of Nord Stream 2.”
(With reporting by AFP, Reuters and AP)