‘Mistake’ to Hold on to Nord Stream 2, Says German President

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German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday acknowledged that his previous support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline had been a mistake.

Steinmeier, long an advocate of Western rapprochement with Russia, expressed regret for his prior backing of the controversial pipeline project.

“My adherence to Nord Stream 2 was clearly a mistake,” he said. “We were sticking to a bridge in which Russia no longer believed and which other partners had warned us against.”

Steinmeier, a Social Democrat who formerly served as Foreign Minister under Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine meant he and others had to reckon honestly with what they had got wrong.

The controversial pipeline project worth $11 billion was completed in September but had stood idle pending certification by Germany and the European Union.

gas pipeline
The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Feb. 26, 2020. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

Germany halted the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline project, designed to double the flow of Russian gas direct to Germany, on Feb. 22, two days before Putin launched an invasion of neighboring Ukraine, declaring a so-called “special military operation” in the country.

The decision was made after Russia formally recognized two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

Steinmeier was a prominent member of a wing of his Social Democratic Party, led by former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, that argued close economic ties to Russia were a way of anchoring it within a western-oriented global system.

The now-canceled Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which critics said would have weakened Ukraine by cutting it out of the energy transit business, was a centerpiece of that strategy.

Steinmeier said on Monday that he was wrong to assume Putin would not “embrace his country’s complete economic, political and moral ruin for the sake of his imperial madness.”

Germany had “failed with the approach of including Russia in a common security architecture,” Steinmeier told reporters during a press briefing.

He added, “In this, I, like others, was mistaken.” 

In this aerial view the Castoro 10 pipela
In this aerial view, the Castoro 10 pipelay vessel lays concrete-coated pipe for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline onto the seabed of the Baltic Sea near Lubmin, Germany on Aug. 16, 2018. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Washington has long argued that the pipeline project posed security risks by increasing European dependency on Russian gas supplies and giving Moscow the ability to bypass Poland and Ukraine in gas deliveries to Western Europe.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in February hailed Germany’s decision to halt certification in a tweet, calling it a “morally, politically and practically correct step in the current circumstances.”

“True leadership means tough decisions in difficult times. Germany’s move proves just that,” he added.

The Epoch Times has contacted Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.

Tom Ozimek and Reuters contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen

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Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master’s in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.





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