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Russia warns EU over ‘obstacles’ in constructing Nord Stream 2

Nord Stream - two pipes are welded together on the Castoro Sei pipelaying vessel. (Bair175/Wikimedia Commons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russia has warned the European Union not to adopt tighter energy rules that could complicate plans to build a gas pipeline between Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea.

“If obstacles to the project are being prepared to force Russia to pump gas through Ukraine according to their conditions, their tariffs, and with uncertainties in legal matters, then this project is unlikely to work out,” Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Pankin said on February 9.

His comments to the RIA Novosti state news agency come a day after ambassadors of EU countries agreed to a proposed new EU directive to extend the bloc’s rules regulating gas deliveries to incoming pipelines, like the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Berlin had opposed the directive but, after France threatened to use its political leverage to push it through, agreed to a compromise, under which German regulatory officials will oversee projects like Nord Stream 2, but with EU regulators having the final say.

The decision ends a two-year impasse and negotiations are now seen largely as a technical matter that will likely be resolved by this summer.

Once the new regulations are finalized, experts say they will subject Russia’s Gazprom to EU regulations on the pipeline and will not allow it to be its sole operator.

The Russian-German pipeline is being built under the Baltic Sea to deliver gas directly to Germany for further distribution across Europe. It largely parallels the path of the already built Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

Eastern European countries like Poland and Ukraine oppose the project because they say it specifically bypasses their territories.

The United States has called the pipeline a form of Russian control over Germany and a threat to European energy security.