Donald Trump says he 'didn't have a problem' with Russia
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He told a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday that Nord Stream 2 should not be certified as it does not comply with EU rules. The pipeline is designed to bring Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine and Poland. It has come under fire, not least in several EU member states, but also in the US – after it was given the green light by President Joe Biden and departing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Mr Vitrenko said the heart of the issue was the need for an application of a “third energy package” for the whole length of the pipeline.
This is opposed to having it applied only for the last mile on German soil.
The third energy package entered into force in September 2009.
Dubbed “anti-Gazprom,” its core elements include ownership unbundling, which includes separating companies’ generation and sale operations from their transmission networks.
In Vitrenko’s words, “non-discriminatory third-party access” means that other producers of gas in Russia other than Gazprom should be able to use the pipeline.
He also argued that the non-discriminatory approach should apply to all pipelines, not only Nord Stream 2.
This would put Germany in a privileged position compared to Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic or Italy.
Mr Vitrenko recognised that the German regulator could not make a decision that would be unfavourable to other markets in the EU.
He said: “What we are demanding is first, let’s make Nord Stream 2 compliant.”
He claimed that the suspension of certification in Germany, which will see Gazprom create a German subsidiary, would be responsible only for the short section of the pipeline on German soil.
He stated: “We are clearly against such an approach. Certifying just the last mile makes no sense, it’s a mockery of EU rules, and we hope it won’t happen,” the CEO of Naftogaz said.
“We would expect the European Commission to have a very strong position to apply the EU rules to the entire pipeline, and not just to this pipeline, but to all pipelines that connect Russia and the EU.”
“The Ukrainian position is that since NS2 is not compliant with EU rules, it should not be certified. If and when they will comply with EU rules, it will be a different story”
Russia has already been accused by many of “weaponising” gas as it tinkered with supplies during a global energy crunch.
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Mr Vitrenko added: “Russia says it fulfils its contractual obligations, but this only concerns long-term contracts.
“For example, they want to help Serbian politicians ahead of some elections, so they sell gas at non-market discounts.
“Or they want to punish Moldova for its geopolitical choice and immediately demand high prices, repayments of debts from the past.
“And recently, because of Russian warships in the Black Sea, we cannot finish the seismic study for gas exploration in our waters, conducted by European firms.
“If that is not weaponisation, then what is it?”
But Professor Friedbert Pflüger, a former CDU MP who teaches Energy and Climate Security at the University of Bonn, defended the pipeline.
He argued that the project provided much-needed diversification of supplies, Russia had been a reliable supplier to the EU even during Cold War times, and gas was never used as a weapon.
According to him, Russia is more dependent on selling gas to Europe than vice versa.
He said: “They can not blackmail us anymore. We have diversified.”
Commenting on Twitter, Ukraine’s former Ambassador to Austria, Olexander Scherba, said: “Welcome to the new Europe, where solidarity is dead.”
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