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Scholz Says Germany Is Putting Nord Stream 2 On Hold, Following Putin’s Actions On Ukraine

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(RFE/RL) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says his country is putting the certifying process for the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia on hold in reaction to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

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Scholz told reporters on February 22 that he had asked for the suspension of the review process by a German regulator for the $11 billion pipeline, which is designed to delivery natural gas to Germany from Russia via the Baltic Sea.

“That sounds technical, but it is the necessary administrative step so there can be no certification of the pipeline,” he said. “And without this certification, Nord Stream 2 cannot begin operating.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba welcomed the move.

“This is a morally, politically and practically correct step in the current circumstances. True leadership means tough decisions in difficult times. Germany’s move proves just that,” Kuleba said on Twitter.

Kuleba also said he expressed his gratitude in a phone call with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in which they discussed EU sanctions against Russia and additional support for Ukraine.

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“I also expressed my conviction that in this new reality Germany can do even more for peace in Ukraine and wider Europe,” he said.

It was not immediately clear how long this would delay the start of operation of the pipeline or when the certification process might resume. A spokesperson for the European Commission assured Europeans that gas supplies for the EU were secure, saying storage sites were 30 percent full.

It was not immediately clear how long this would delay the start of operation of the pipeline or when the certification process might resume. The pipeline has been finished but has not begun operations as it awaited final certification.

The pipeline has long been opposed by the United States and some European countries, who say it would increase Europe’s reliance on Russian energy supplies.

Washington has also said it will cause economic harm to Kyiv, enabling Moscow to reroute gas exports around Ukraine, depriving the country of billions of dollars a year in transit fees.

Scholz said his government had decided to “reassess” the certification of the pipeline in light of the latest developments.

“That will certainly take time, if I may say so,” he said.

U.S. President Joe Biden has said that if Russia invades Ukraine, “then there will be no longer be a Nord Stream 2. I promise you, we will bring an end to it.”

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki tweeted on February 22 that the United States has been in close consultations with Germany and welcomed the announcement halting the pipeline.

The president “made clear that if Russia invaded Ukraine, we would act with Germany to ensure Nord Stream 2 does not move forward,” she wrote.

In comments earlier on February 22, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy demanded that the pipeline project be shut down in view of Russia’s move to recognize two separatist regions in his country as independent states and to send troops to the territory.

Zelenskiy said Russia must be punished for its actions with “immediate sanctions” that include “the complete stop of Nord Stream 2.”

RFE RL

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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