Russia says failure to certify Nord Stream 2 is not an option

File photo. Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak speaks to the press after a Trilateral Gas Talks between the European Union, Russia and Ukraine at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 28 October 2019. [EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ]

Russia believes that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will get the necessary certification and eventually start working, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told RBC media on Wednesday (29 December).

Construction on the pipeline, which runs from Russia to Germany on the bed of the Baltic Sea and bypasses Ukraine, was completed in September but it lays idle while awaiting regulatory approval from Berlin and Brussels.

The project has become increasingly politicized amid growing tensions between Russia and the West, which fears Moscow may attack Ukraine to prevent it from forging close ties with NATO. Russia denies it harbours such plans.

The chief executive of Ukraine’s state energy company Naftogaz Yuriy Vitrenko said last month he was hopeful that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline would not come online, saying it did not comply with European law.

Naftogaz CEO: Certifying only the Nord Stream 2 last mile is ‘a mockery of EU rules’

The Ukrainian position is that since Nord Stream 2 is not compliant with EU rules, it should not be certified, the CEO of Ukraine’s gas and oil state company Naftogaz Yuriy Vitrenko told a conference in Brussels.

Asked if Russia had a “Plan B” in case Nord Stream 2 was not certified, Novak said: “We don’t consider such options and we believe it will be launched in line with the timings, set for certification.”

It is expected that the certification will be completed not earlier than the end of the first half of 2022.

He said that Russia hopes no new requirements for the project will be put forward.

Novak also said that Russia was ready to increase gas exports to Europe, which has seen gas prices skyrocketing amid rising demand and lack of supplies, but under long-term contracts – the arrangement shunned by European companies in favour of short-term spot deals.

The German government appears to accept that Nord Stream 2 would be scrapped in case of the need to impose new sanctions on Russia in case of invasion of Ukraine.

German government row over Nord Stream 2

The honeymoon period of the new German “traffic light” government may officially be over: vice chancellor Robert Habeck has threatened to block the contentious Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as part of sanctions against Russia, revealing tensions within the coalition over the project.

(Edited by Georgi Gotev)

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