Polish, Ukrainian FMs criticise agreement on NS2

Polish and Ukrainian Foreign Ministers issued a joint statement criticising the agreement between the authorities of Germany and the US, concerning the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline on the seabed of the Baltic Sea. “We are surprised by the US decision to allow construction of the NS2 to continue. This is a decision that is not good for the CEE region,” added Piotr Müller, the government’s spokesman.

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The administration of US President Joe Biden and the German Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday an agreement to end the dispute over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Under the agreement, the US is suspending sanctions on NS2, and Germany will invest in Ukrainian projects and undertake sanctions if Russia takes hostile actions.

On Wednesday evening, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a joint message on its website after a telephone conversation between the head of Polish diplomacy Zbigniew Rau and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba, in which it was emphasised that “The decision to build Nord Stream 2 made in 2015 mere months after Russia's invasion and illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, created security, credibility and political crisis in Europe.”

It was emphasised that the permit to continue construction of the pipeline “has created political, military and energy threat for Ukraine and Central Europe, while increasing Russia's potential to destabilise the security situation in Europe, perpetuating divisions among NATO and European Union member states.”

“Poland and Ukraine will work together with their allies and partners to oppose NS2 until solutions are developed to address the security crisis created by NS2, to provide support to countries aspiring to membership in Western democratic institutions, and to reduce threats to peace and energy security,” the statement concludes.

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“From the very beginning, we emphasise that the Nord Stream 2 project is a geopolitical project that destabilises the political situation in Central and Eastern Europe,” Piotr Müller, the spokesman for the Polish government told journalists in the Sejm [Polish parliament’s Lower House] on Wednesday evening.

He emphasised that Poland had raised its accusations regarding the project from the very beginning and had been supported by the US for many months.

“We are, unfortunately, surprised by this decision,” he stressed, adding that it “pursues Russia’s interests.”

The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, consisting of two lines, is almost fully completed. The construction is opposed, among others, by Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic States stressing that the completion of the project would increase Europe’s dependence on gas imports from Russia and expand the Kremlin’s political influence over European policy.

Construction of the pipeline began under the administration of previous US President Donald Trump in 2018. It then became the main source of friction between Washington and Berlin.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin hours before the release of Wednesday’s agreement, the German government said, saying Nord Stream 2 and gas transit via Ukraine were among the topics. Germany will contribute at least USD 175 mln to a new USD 1 bn “Green Fund for Ukraine” aimed at improving the country’s energy independence.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas welcomed the agreement signed between his country and the US over NS2. “I am relieved that we have found a constructive solution regarding Nord Stream 2 with the United States,” he wrote on Twitter. “We will help Ukraine build up a green energy sector and push to secure gas transit through Ukraine in the coming decade,” he declared.