EU OVERSHADOWED BY NORD STREAM 2 AS EU LEADERS TRIP TO UKRAINE SEES A TWIST
The latest Russian energy project is currently viewed by the West as Russia’s new “weapon” in its war on Ukraine is also believed to have taken a different dimension as Europe’s solidarity with Kyiv sees EU overshadowed. This comes as the subject gas pipeline project to Germany that is on the verge of completion which could potentially start delivery later next month at a double capacity.
According to reports, some European Union members to be precise 11, today sent presidents and prime ministers to Ukraine’s ‘Crimea Platform’ summit in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, including Finland, Poland, Romania, and Sweden. While in addition, foreign ministers from Belgium, Denmark, Austria, Netherlands, Ireland, and Spain, among other EU states are reportedly taking part, and not excluding EU Council president ‘Charles Michel’.
An event which is meant to be a Western show of solidarity with Kyiv for ending Russia’s occupation of the Crimea Peninsula instead witnessed a twist from three top EU member states, notably France, Germany, and Italy as they were meant to send foreign ministers but ironically, these three sent lower-level officials at the last minute.
Speaking of this development, one EU observer familiar with the matter confirmed that the decision prompted speculation in Kyiv that German chancellor ‘Angela Markel’ and French president ‘Emmanuel Macron’ had agreed to do as they did after speaking with Russian President ‘Vladimir Putin’, which also included Russia’s role in a potential Afghanistan refugee concern. However, it was equally noted that the Crimea Platform event was, more or less, overshadowed by Germany and Russia’s imminent completion of the Nord Stream 2 project described as a “dangerous weapon” by Ukrainian president ‘Volodymyr Zelensky’ yesterday.
Zelensky made it clear after meeting with Merkel in Kyiv the same day that “we view this project [Nord Stream 2] exclusively through the prism of security and consider it a dangerous geopolitical weapon of the Kremlin”. Adding that “this is a dangerous weapon, not only for Ukraine but for the whole of Europe”.
It’s also clear that EU’s overshadowed by the subject project isn’t the pipeline’s goal but to concentrate Russia’s EU gas exports through Germany, which could potentially enable Putin to cut off Ukraine’s transit system in the future. And further, which makes this another matter is its capability of cutting of Poland and other eastern EU countries, prompting broader strategic concern among Nato allies according to experts.
In view of this, Merkel promised that Berlin is poised to push for further EU penalties on Russia if it ever uses this project as a weapon. Noting that, Germany would “advocate further sanctions in the European framework if this suspicion is substantiated that the pipeline is used as a weapon”.
Furthermore, she noted that these commitments were “binding on future German governments”, while speaking on her last visit prior to her stepping down as chancellor in September. Prior to Ukraine’s eastern Donbas issue she equally added that “We feel a special responsibility” and “understand the big concerns that president Zelensky expressed … We take them very seriously”.
Germany would also work to revive summits in the so-called ‘Normandy Format’ – Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany – aimed at discussing Russian aggression in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. A move that is viewed as “going in a circle”.
After meeting with Markel, Putin made it clear that “Together we tried to find possibilities to restore peace in Donbas. Regrettably, it has not yet been achieved”. Instead, blamed Kyiv for alleged ceasefire violations, noted as a sign of the kremlin’s hard-line.
“Populated location in Donbas come under shelling every day” Putin said.
As regards the subject project, Russian foreign minister ‘Sergei Lavrov’ made it clear that the Crimea Platform summit would see the West “continue to groom the neo-Nazi and racist sentiment of the current Ukrainian government” – Russia’s Tass news.
Equally, the Russian deputy foreign minister ‘Alexander Grushko’ also said that it would harm relationship with Russia regarding those leaders who went to Kyiv. Adding that,
“Naturally, it will tell negatively [impact relations]. And those who are planning to take part are fully aware of it”.
In another development, it was also noted that ‘Emmanuel Macron’ held what he calls his “Strategic Dialogue” with Putin last week in a one-and-a-half-hour-long phone conversation. However, the focus of their conversation was primarily about Afghanistan, while according to French readout, Macron had pledged “commitment to coordinate Russia and France’s efforts in the so-called ‘Normandy Format”, which Germany plan to revive.
However, the two men agreed to “maintain personal contact”.