Thursday, 26 May 2022

Merkel fuelled Ukraine war! Nord Stream 2 backlash as ex-Chancellor blasted over pipeline

Zelensky sends message to Merkel over ’concessions’ to Russia

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The second incarnation of the Nord Stream pipeline was started in 2011, but the almost-completed pipeline has faced strong opposition across the EU and the US. It was designed to funnel gas from Russia to Germany’s coastline via 1,200 of pipes under the Baltic Sea, costing in the region of $12 billion.

Germany is reliant on Moscow for around 40 percent of its gas supply, and critics vocally argued the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would only increase European dependence on Russia.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine rumbled on for over a month, Germany declared an “early warning” for a gas shortage in the country.

Minister of Economics Robert Habeck said: “We must increase precautionary measures in order to be prepared in the event of an escalation on the part of Russia.”

Economist Anders Åslund laid the blame for encouraging European reliance on Russian oil at former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s doorstep through her commitment to the highly controversial pipeline.

Mr Åslund wrote on Twitter that “Merkel was the main defender of Nord Stream 2”.

He then asked: “Would Putin have attacked Ukraine if Merkel had not insisted on Nord Stream 2? I doubt it.”

Angela Merkel retired from politics last year after a record 16 years in power.

Last week, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier admitted the government made a “mistake” to push forward with the pipeline.

He said: “My holding on to Nord Stream 2 was clearly a mistake.”

He added: “We held on to bridges that Russia no longer believed in and that our partners warned us about.”

In the wake of the Ukraine war, Mr Steinmeier said he was “wrong” to believe Vladimir Putin would not launch an invasion.

He said: “My assessment was that Vladimir Putin would not accept the complete economic, political and moral ruin of his country for his imperial mania — there, like others, I was wrong.”

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He went on to say Europe’s biggest economy had “failed with the approach of including Russia in a common security architecture”.

The pipeline was also slammed by Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who told a conference that Germany had “ignored” its dependence on Russian oil in what appeared to be a reference to Nord Stream 2.

She said: “Actually, we as Europeans have known since 2014 at the latest that we must become completely independent of Russian fossil fuel imports, and a strategy was put in place to diversify our energy imports.

“However, we did not tackle this, and this is now taking its revenge in the most brutal way.”

Angela Merkel has defended her foreign policy towards Ukraine after the besieged government called her tactics a “policy of concessions” to Moscow.

In 2008, Ms Merkel, along with other European leaders like ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy, blocked Kyiv’s application to join NATO and pursued economic links with Moscow.

Earlier this month, she became a target in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s sight, who ramped up his criticism of the ex-German Chancellor after the alleged war crimes in northern Ukraine were revealed.

He said: “I invite Ms Merkel and Mr Sarkozy to visit Bucha and see what the policy of concessions to Russia has led to in 14 years.”

He added: “They thought that, by refusing Ukraine, they would be able to appease Russia. Now we are fighting for our lives in the most horrific war in Europe since World War Two.”

A spokesperson then said Ms Merkel “stands by her decision in relation to the 2008 Nato summit in Bucharest”.

Mr Zelensky had warned Ms Merkel in August 2021 that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was “a dangerous geopolitical weapon” for Putin to wield against Europe.

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