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Zelenskyy—Merkel meeting: why Nord Stream 2 cannot be stopped

The meeting of the leaders of Ukraine and Germany is to take place on July 12, 2021 in Berlin. It is quite possible that this meeting will be the penultimate one between Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Angela Merkel as Chancellor. Another meeting may take place at the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence Day in Kyiv, since Zelenskyy earlier invited in a telephone conversation the Chancellor of Germany to attend official events.

Today Zelensky and Merkel will discuss different issues. But the most important topic that sets the tone for the talks will be Nord Stream 2 and the discussion of threats to Ukraine and Europe due to this gas pipeline construction, as stated by President Zelenskyy at a joint press conference with President of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda in Vilnius.

"There will be an important meeting with Ms Merkel in terms of energy security not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe. It is fortunate that Europe does not yet feel these threats connected with the Nord Stream 2 construction. But on this issue, the countries of the European Union are divided. The Nord Stream 2 issue is global. We will talk about this with Ms. Merkel, and we will not separate the issue of Nord Stream 2 and security," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

According to the President of Ukraine, when there is a war in the country, people's lives become priority, and when the country is safe—the economy becomes it. Therefore, for Ukraine—security first, and then the economy.

Despite the fact that Angela Merkel does not impede SP 2, the Federal Foreign Office of Germany assures of their interest in maintaining the transit of natural gas through Ukraine. This was announced by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany Heiko Maas during his visit to Poland.

Quote"In the coming years, alternative gas transit through Ukraine will be provided. It is important for us to make sure that Ukraine does not lose income, because we are talking about maintaining transit duties," Maas said.

In addition, at the Munich Security Conference, candidates for the post of Chancellor of Germany candidates from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Armin Laschet and from the Social Democratic Party Olaf Scholz said that if the Russian government uses the pipeline against Ukraine for political purposes, it can be stopped in any moment—even when it's complete. Scholz also stressed that the German side is considering Nord Stream 2 "exclusively economically."

Mykola Melnyk
Mykola Melnyk
Director at Leviathan Analytic Group

"The European market now has a large deficit of cheap energy resources, and Russia will not increase gas transit through Ukraine even at the request of its Western trade and economic partners. Nord Stream 2 will be administered by companies from Germany and the UK. In addition, this project will allow Germany to become the "gas hub of Europe", about what Mrs. Angela Merkel has dreamed for decades. Under such conditions, convincing Merkel of stopping Nord Stream 2 will be extremely difficult or practically impossible. We may or may not like this, but Ukrainian problems are of little concern to the ordinary voter of the FRG.

Moreover, Ukraine signed a contract in December 2019, according to which it reduced the volume of Russian gas transit through its territory to 40 billion cubic meters. It was reduced from 90 billion to 40 billion. At that time this was done due to the fact that Gazprom already understood that if Nord Stream 2 was launched around 2022, then they would no longer need Ukraine's capacities."

The issue of the war in Donbass and trade relations between Ukraine and Germany is also on the agenda. During the forum "Ukraine 30. International Politics" Dmytro Kuleba stated that, in addition to the SP 2, the leaders of the countries will talk about security, the Normandy format, trade between the two states, and German investments in Ukraine.

Most likely, Volodymyr Zelensky will also rely on the position of the United States at a meeting with Merkel. On June 24, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, called for measures to reduce the risks posed to Ukraine by the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Quote"Secretary Blinken stressed the continued US opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and called on Germany to take concrete steps to reduce the risks it poses to Ukraine and European energy security," Ned Price, Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, stated.

According to Bloomberg, the United States and Germany have begun to prepare an agreement to provide assistance to Ukraine amid the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline construction. The deal should help offset transit fees that Ukraine will lose after the pipeline goes into operation, support the country's infrastructure, and invest in the construction of power plants in Ukraine and green energy support.

"The issue of Nord Stream 2 for Germany in general has already been finally resolved, and the lifting of US sanctions on the project only perpetuated this situation. Therefore, Zelenskyy’s visit to Berlin will not be able to change this order of things for the FRG: within Germany itself, the topic of the stream is not criticized by the upper strata of the elites, with rare exceptions. Among other things, Kyiv did not find full-fledged levers of influence on Berlin and the strategy to combat Nord Stream 2 was entirely based solely on the strength of the United States as a foreign policy player. Except for the United States, direct points of influence on German politics were not even foreseen by Ukraine, except for the United States.

However, the issue of compensation to Ukraine and its form remains unresolved."

Yaroslav Bozhko

Yaroslav Bozhko

Political scientist, Director of the Center for Political Studies "Doctrine"

In addition, according to the expert, for Kyiv it would be extremely important for Germany to take a step towards the supply of weapons to Ukraine, at least as a symbolic gesture.

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