How a trans-European pipeline is at the centre of Ukraine crisis
Amid escalating tensions between US/NATO and Russia, all eyes are on Ukraine. But Nord Stream 2, a pipeline built to bring Russian gas under the Baltic Sea directly to Germany, is an integral part of the story.
This is according to John Foster, an international petroleum economist who has worked for the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, BP and Petro-Canada, and is author of Oil and World Politics: the Real Story of Today’s Conflict Zones (Lorimer Books).
Foster says, “U.S. efforts to contain Russia and maintain leadership over Europe are not working. The world has become multi-polar and Nord Stream 2 is a fulcrum at the centre of the current crisis.”
In an article published by CounterPunch magazine this week, Foster writes:
US Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, asserted (Jan 27), “If Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, … we will work with Germany to ensure it (the pipeline) does not move forward.” Delayed by US threats and sanctions, Nord Stream 2 highlights why countries are challenging US leadership.
Russia is a petro-state. It’s the world’s single largest exporter of natural gas, and the second largest oil exporter – just behind Saudi Arabia. Pipelines and sea routes to market are vital to its economy. Russia wants to sell oil and gas in Asia and Europe, and they want to buy it. Nord Stream 2 makes commercial sense. It incurs no transit fees. The route to market is much shorter than aging pipelines via Ukraine. For its part, Ukraine depends on transit fees from gas shipped through these pipelines.
Nord Stream 2 remains controversial, bitterly opposed by Poland and Ukraine who presume it will reduce volumes and transit fees on pipelines through their countries. Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and others want it. Germany, which carries huge weight in the EU, sees gas as a transition fuel after phasing out nuclear and coal.
The current situation is dangerous and could easily escalate. Nord Stream 2 is critically important but national security trumps all. Security can only be achieved if it is universal. US efforts to contain Russia and maintain leadership over Europe are not working. The world has become multi-polar and Nord Stream 2 is a fulcrum at the centre of the current crisis.
- Read “Pipeline Politics Hits Multipolar Realities: Nord Stream 2 and the Ukraine Crisis,” published on February 2, 2022 in Counterpunch.com.
(Cover: Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline emerging on map of Europe connecting Russia and Germany through Baltic Sea. Via Shutterstock)