Germany’s defense minister warned Thursday against using the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a bargaining chip in a bid to solve the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, calling it “unrelated.”
The pipeline “should not be dragged into this conflict,” Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told broadcaster Inforadio, adding that the dispute can only be solved “through talks.”
Referring to Wednesday’s talks between Russia and NATO, as well as Thursday’s meeting of security body the OSCE, the minister said “this is the best opportunity now.”
“We must use it and not try to solve conflicts using unrelated projects,” said the minister of the center-left Social Democratic Party.
Germany has always had an ambivalent stance on the pipeline.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz, also of the Social Democrats, had on his first day in office warned of consequences for Nord Stream 2 if Russia were to invade Ukraine. But he has also said that it is a purely commercial project.
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock of the Greens had said that the gas pipeline will not be allowed to operate if there were any new escalation in the Ukraine crisis.
Nord Stream 2 is set to double supplies of cheap natural gas from Russia to Germany, which the EU’s top economy says is needed to help it transition away from coal and nuclear energy.
But the 10-billion-euro ($12 billion) project has for years been dogged by delays and drawn fierce criticism from Germany’s eastern European Union allies such as Poland, as well as the United States.
It was completed in September but Germany’s energy regulator BNetzA has said the approval process for the pipeline is likely to drag into the second half of 2022.
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