Now Ditch Nord Stream 1 – Scholz under pressure over Germany’s Russia ties as fury erupts

Scholz imposes sanctions covering the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

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The German Chancellor announced that he had halted approval of the pipeline – which was built to send natural gas directly to Germany, circumventing Ukraine – as part of a raft of sanctions against Russia. Certification of the pipeline had been something Russia had been doggedly vying for.

However, the pipeline would have made Europe even more reliant on Russian energy, which makes up as much as 40 percent of their supply and which it was feared Putin may use against the West.

Now, Mr Scholz is facing calls to go further and stop dependence on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.

Sergiy Makogon, head of the gas pipeline operator Gas Transmission System Operator of Ukraine (GTSOU), told German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel: “Germany is on the right track.

“The cancellation of Nord Stream 2 was the right decision – for us and for Germany.

“Since there was no need for additional gas capacity, Nord Stream 2 was only a political project from the beginning. Economically, it never made any sense.

“From my point of view, it would be helpful if Germany also stopped Nord Stream 1. GTSOU could handle the capacities.

“Increasing dependence on Ukrainian infrastructure could increase the pressure on Russia to stop its invasion of Ukraine and ensure that Ukrainian gas infrastructure does not become a target of Russian attacks.”

He added: “Of course, any initiative in or by Russia aimed at stopping this unprovoked attack on Ukraine would be a step in the right direction.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Makogon suggested “it would be good not only out of solidarity with Ukraine, but also with a view to securing the gas infrastructure in Central Europe in the long term, if Nord Stream 1 were also sanctioned sooner rather than later”.

He was confident that if Nord Stream 1 were to be affected by sanctions against Russia, “our infrastructure could absorb a large part of the volumes transiting there”.

As part of the package of sanctions brought forward by Mr Scholz, Germany overturned a long-held ban on sending weapons to warzones.

However, his coalition Government stopped short of a ban on Russian fossil fuels, indicating the economy was still too reliant on them.

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Robert Habeck, the German Minister for the Economy, told reporters yesterday he would not advocate an embargo on Russian energy imports and “would even oppose it”.

He added: “We need these energy supplies to maintain the price stability and energy security in Germany.”

In the interview with Der Tagesspiegel, Mr Makogon laid bare the fighting spirit of Ukrainian energy workers during a horrendous bombardment from the Russian military.

He said administrative buildings in Kharkiv and Mykolaiv had been hit by artillery fire, and that two strands of the gas pipeline in Kharkiv had been damaged by an airstrike.

Thankfully, no one was injured by the attacks, Mr Makogon said, but noted Ukraine had suffered the destruction of fourteen gas distribution stations.

Asked about the possibility of all-out war involving shelling and bombing, he forecast that “gas flows would be the least of our problems”.

Mr Makogon added: “We would be faced with a humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine the likes of which have not been seen since the Second World War.

“I do not have a crystal ball and cannot predict what will happen next.”

Despite the damage already sustained, the network remained “fully operational and we intend to keep it that way”.

He concluded: “We will deal with any challenges as they arise. We will do everything we can to continue to supply our customers reliably.”

In the meantime, families were being taken to safe shelter, and staff were being equipped with “the necessary safety equipment”.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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