Climate and energy

Nord Stream 2 – a project with geopolitical dimensions?

Discussion with Alina Polyakova

In recent months, the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has repeatedly led to irritations in transatlantic relations. U.S. President Donald Trump’s accusation that Germany is becoming dependent on Russian gas is merely a rhetorical shift, according to Alina Polyakova, an expert on European and Russian foreign policy and David M. Rubenstein Fellow at the Brookings Institution. In her remarks at an Atlantik-Brücke dinner discussion in Berlin on September 6, Polyakova argued that the President was reiterating criticism of the project that both the Obama and Bush administrations had already expressed. She added that from the U.S.’ perspective, Nord Stream 2 undermines and destabilizes Europe’s energy infrastructure.

The discussion between Polyakova and members of Atlantik-Brücke was mainly concerned with the question of whether and why the new gas pipeline was needed at all. Polyakova believed the pipeline had no advantages for Europe or Germany, but rather presented disadvantages in terms of both the energy supply and geopolitical considerations. According to Polyakova, it is clear that Nord Stream 2 will not supply Europe with more gas. Rather, the construction project helps Russia’s strategic interest. “With Nord Stream 2 Russia intends to completely destabilize Ukraine so that it never becomes a member of the EU or NATO. At the same time, Europe becomes increasingly dependent on Russia.”

Polyakova also emphasized that she considers the purchase of Russian gas to be economically unproblematic. Her criticism was instead based on the fact that Nord Stream 2 was primarily a political and military project. She argued that due to the geopolitical implications and the enormous resistance in some European member states, the construction project not only endangered the long-term security situation on the European continent, but also Europe’s internal political coherence. Other participants argued that, thanks to diversification efforts at European level, there was no danger of dependence on Russian gas either now or in the future. Furthermore, the question was raised as to whether the U.S. government’s criticism of Nord Stream 2 could mainly be driven by economic interests regarding the sale of American Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to Europe. Polyakova’s view that the construction project is not only based on economic and energy policy concerns but also on geopolitical considerations was also controversially discussed.

 

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