President Vladimir Putin assured the world that Russia is ready to supply gas to Europe through the surviving Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Speaking at the Russian Energy Week forum in Moscow, Putin said that Russian gas could still be sent to Europe via one of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline’s remaining intact lines, but the decision is now in the hands of the European Union.
Putin made the announcement of potentially opening the second natural gas conduit more than a month after state-controlled Gazprom closed down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline indefinitely.
The twin pipelines were discovered to have leaked into the Baltic Sea, with a German daily describing the pipes as “unusable forever.”
Putin stated that the pipelines might be repaired, but it was up to Europe to decide. He also called the incident a “sabotage…[resulting from] an international terrorist attack aiming at destroying the supply and the sources of energy.”
The leaks are located within the exclusive economic zones of Sweden and Denmark. The Swedish National Seismology Centre earlier recorded “powerful subsea blasts” around the area of the Nord Stream pipeline leaks, pushing forward the idea that the incident could be a result of targeted attacks.
In a joint letter to the UN Security Council, Sweden and Denmark said the blasts are “probably caused by explosions equivalent to several hundred kilos of explosives.” Swedish officials recently gathered evidence that may point to the Nord Stream gas pipelines being sabotaged, according to the country’s Security Service.
Russia earlier is said to be interested in taking part in the investigations into the pipeline leaks but the Swedish Defense Minister said this is not an option.
Several nations have also pronounced that the leaks were “deliberate” in nature, also theorizing sabotage. Finland previously said that only a state actor could be capable of acts on such a scale while Poland is pointing fingers at Russia who weaponized its gas exports in retaliation to the Ukraine war-related sanctions it is sustaining.
Will EU take the Russian bait?
Putin’s speech at the forum seems to be aimed at courting the EU and sowing further distance from the United States. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, although ultimately suspended by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on the pretext of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was a target of sanctions by the US–claiming that Moscow will potentially use the pipeline to gain geopolitical advantage.
At one point in the countries’ respective previous administrations, the US and Germany were at odds on how the former imposes sanctions on the pipeline and its suppliers. Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel then stated in a joint statement that “Europe’s energy supply is a matter for Europe, and not for the United States of America.”
More importantly, then-Finance Minister Scholz called the sanctions “a severe intervention in German and European internal affairs.”
But Germany made a promise to halt the second pipeline’s operations should Russia invade Ukraine, and thus, the conduit remained loaded but unopened.
If not obtusely, Putin hinted at getting on the EU’s good side and painting the US as the enemy. He claims that “ideologies” are driving “nuclear terrorism” and “political killings” in order to “sever the bond between Russia and Europe.”
This is further bolstered by Putin’s call to scrap the Russian oil price cap, warning that it would be a “threat to billions of people.” The said cap is a major point of contention between the US and Russia as President Joe Biden warned of imposing sanctions on buyers of Russian oil that would flout the G7-proposed price cap.
For its part, the European leaders were then reported to have been considering capping the price on gas imports from Russia following the Nord Stream 1 pipeline shutdown.
However, Putin only talked about the oil price cap, saying Russia “will not supply countries that set a cap on Russian oil prices.” He cited the “adventurism” of Western leaders taking “very dangerous decisions,” yet seemingly drawing a map for the EU on how to restore its relations with Moscow.
“We are willing to buy European products, but they are the ones who don’t want to sell us their products… And they have decided to put a cap on oil prices from Russia,” Putin said in his speech.
Should the EU–particularly Germany–decide to take Russia’s offer on the Nord Stream 2 (sanctioned by the US) and forgo the oil price cap (championed by the US), it’s a clear indicator of a major shift in geopolitics.
Information for this briefing was found via France 24 and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.