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For Angela Merkel, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline must not be used as a “geopolitical weapon” in Moscow

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Visiting Kiev on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel tried to reassure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about Russian gas and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project that will link Russia to Germany. “Gas should not be used as a geopolitical weapon,” she said, ensuring she understood “the major concerns” of Kiev.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted, Sunday August 22 in Kiev, on the fact that Russia should not use its gas as a geopolitical weapon against Ukraine.

“We agree with the Americans that gas should not be used as a geopolitical weapon, and in the end we will see it depending on the renewal (by Russia) of the transit contract (gas) via Ukraine”, she said, responding to criticism from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a joint press conference.

The Chancellor recalled having found a compromise with the United States, which was trying to block the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. This agreement should prevent Moscow from using the pipeline to weaken Ukraine, in particular by extending the transit contract expiring in 2024.

>> To see, our Reporters: “Investigation into Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline of discord”

This almost completed pipe passing under the Baltic Sea will directly connect Russia and Germany, depriving Ukraine of at least $ 1.5 billion per year that it currently receives for the transit of Russian gas through its territory and a lever facing his Russian opponent.

“We are looking at this project only from a security perspective and see it as a dangerous geopolitical weapon of the Kremlin,” Volodymyr Zelensky remarked at the joint press conference. “The main risks with the completion of Nord Stream 2 will weigh on Ukraine,” he insisted.

Besides the financial losses, Kiev fears that the transit stop could facilitate a possible invasion, as Russia will no longer have to worry about Ukraine’s gas infrastructure to supply its main European customers with gas. Moscow has already increased the pressure in the spring by massing tens of thousands of soldiers at the border.

Sanctions provided for in the agreement

Angela Merkel noted having asked, during her visit to Moscow on Friday, President Vladimir Putin that the transit agreement “be extended”. But President Zelensky estimated that he had heard so far on the question of the extension of this contract only “things of a very general nature”.

The Chancellor said she understood President Zelensky’s “great concerns” while noting that Berlin had “a special responsibility” in the matter. The German-American agreement allows precisely “sanctions if (the gas) is used as a weapon”, she assured.

Angela Merkel, who is about to bow out after 16 years in power, finally promised that these commitments were “also binding for future governments” in Germany.

“Unsatisfactory” peace talks

Ukraine, an ally of the West, has been the scene, since 2014, of a pro-Russian separatist war in the East, unleashed in the wake of Moscow’s annexation of Ukrainian Crimea.

If Kiev is grateful to Angela Merkel for her support vis-à-vis Moscow on these issues, he accuses her of having excluded the gas issue from the scope of European sanctions.

On the war in the East, the Chancellor once again pleaded in favor of the continuation of the peace talks, while acknowledging the results so far “unsatisfactory”.

Despite a sharp drop in intensity, fighting continues to kill and the political settlement has stalled. “Russia is directly involved in this conflict,” noted Angela Merkel, rejecting the Kremlin’s denials on this subject, and believing that this is why the peace talks “go round in circles”.

A conference on Crimea on Monday

On the other hand, a facilitator with France in this conflict, Germany has always refused to sell arms to Ukraine, to the latter’s chagrin. “We are counting a lot” on the change of position of Berlin on this subject, underlined Sunday Volodymyr Zelensky.

Finally, many in Kiev were indignant at the Chancellor’s choice not to participate on Monday in an international conference devoted to the annexation of Crimea, an unprecedented event for Ukraine.

Angela Merkel stressed for her part that her Minister of Energy would be present and explained the absence of her Minister of Foreign Affairs by the explosive situation in Afghanistan.

With AFP


France 24 Europe Fr Trans

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