Putin slammed for ‘weaponising’ Nord Stream 2 pipeline as EU gas crisis looms

Merkel ‘under pressure’ to put Nord Stream 2 on hold says expert

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The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will see gas delivered from Russia directly to Germany, has recently finished construction and awaits approval from German regulators before gas flow can begin. After Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a deal for the pipeline in the face of intense opposition, the Russian President is hoping to avoid the Chancellor from implementing EU laws across the system.

Under EU regulations, Russian operator Gazprom will need to auction off sections of the pipeline to third parties.

The standoff has reportedly led to Mr Putin restricting the flow of gas into Europe, including into Ukrain, through existing active pipelines.

The move has threatened Europe’s energy security, with some experts warning a harsh winter could spark a full-blown gas crisis.

Mr Putin has been hammered by the international community for using the pipeline as a geopolitical weapon.

Many Ukrainians have argued the main goal for Nord Stream 2 is to end Moscow’s reliance on the Ukrainian gas transit system, which could pave the way for a major escalation in the eighth year of an ongoing campaign of Russian military aggression.

The European Commission has recently announced an extension of its sanction packages against Russia, some of which have been in place since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Mr Putin has also been partially blamed for the spiralling gas prices and low storage levels across the continent, with prices reaching record highs in some cases.

Now, as the Nord Stream 2 pipeline awaits approval, critics have said that by pushing up gas prices, Mr Putin is attempting to speed up the lengthy certification process.

Yuriy Vitrenko, CEO of Ukrainian energy giant Naftogaz, said there is no question the gas shortages are a deliberate attack by Moscow that should result in sanctions from both Germany and the US.

He said: “What Russia is doing is the very intentional withholding of gas supplies to Europe.

“Moscow is withholding gas supplies in order to coerce Europe into accepting Nord Stream 2 and certifying it before the US Congress adopts additional sanctions.

“Russia’s actions are the epitome of gas weaponization.

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“Anyone who refuses to acknowledge what Moscow is doing, especially when it does this so blatantly, is sending a dangerous message to the Russians that they can use gas to blackmail Europe and get away with it.”

There are now fears that with soaring gas prices and limited supplies, an energy crisis could hit during a cold winter.

Joe Biden’s energy administrator, Amos Hochstein, said: “If you get a real cold winter by January and February, you could run out of supplies. And that’s where I get concerned.

“This is not just about some geopolitical games. People’s lives are at stake.”

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