As another energy conflict is erupting between Russia and Ukraine, Moscow seeks to start construction of the second branch of the Nord Stream pipeline to deliver Russian natural gas directly to Germany. While the European Union countries remain divided, the United States needs to maintain its consistent and principled position to reduce Europe´s over-dependence on Russian natural gas.
On March 2, Russian state gas company Gazprom announced that it would terminate all gas contracts with Ukraine´s energy company Naftogaz after a Stockholm arbitration court ordered Gazprom to pay more than $2.5 billion to Naftogaz for failing to uphold contractual obligations regarding volumes of transit gas through Ukraine. Gazprom´s apparent reprisal has increased European fears of a possible gas war in the midst of a cold winter; Ukraine has already closed schools to conserve energy and the EU is worried about its own gas supplies.
These fears could play into Gazprom´s efforts to push through its Nord Stream 2, which Moscow presents as a simple business project to ensure Europe´s gas supply. To buy into this line of thinking, however, is to misunderstand the rationale for this project. Gazprom is not a commercial entity, but the right hand of the Kremlin, and Russia today is no ally of Europe but rather a sanctioned state engaged in war on the continent and bent on destabilizing the EU and NATO.
Nord Stream 2 may give the Russian military a freer hand in Ukraine, impede the EU´s foreign policy and energy strategy, and increase Moscow´s influence over Germany´s political and business elites, thus aggravating divisions between Europe and the United States.
Read more in a commentary on Daily MailOnline.