Russia: Reaction 'stronger than Putin expected' says Ricketts

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Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a deal with the Russian President that will see Russia transit gas to Germany through the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine and Poland on its route. But the deal for Nord Stream 2 may make the EU, which already gets 40 percent of supplies from Russia, even more dependent on the Kremlin’s gas.

And Moscow has already laid bare its tight grip on the European energy market, slashing supplies to the bloc through its vast network of pipelines in a move that hiked up gas prices to record highs.

Even in December, prices surpassed October records after Moscow diverted gas to the East, a move that appears to still be happening.

Oleksandr Scherba, Senior Advisor at Ukraine gas giant Naftogaz, told that the new gas deal would give Mr Putin an even greater chance to use gas as a “weapon”.

He said: “The EU should realize that Nord Stream 2 in its current form is a, contradicting the EU’s regulations and b, can, and inevitably will, be used as a weapon.

“Actually, it’s already happening. Look at how much havoc this weapon is already causing in relations between the US and the EU, between ‘old’ and ‘new’ Europe.”

In fact, the US has called for the pipeline to be abandoned entirely.

But to avoid escalating tension with its close ally Germany, US President Joe Biden waived sanctions on Nord Stream 2 back in May.

Still, many American lawmakers have opposed the project on the basis that Europe’s dependency on Russian gas will only soar if this pipeline is up and running.

And Mr Scherba, who was also formerly an Ambassador at the Ukraine Foreign Ministry, agrees.

He told ”Because of this project, the EU is bleeding credibility right and left.

“So, at the end of the day, European decision-makers should ask themselves: is it worth it?

“Will we be able to forgive ourselves if, at the end of the day, Ukraine is right, and it’s a path to war?”

Now, a Russian invasion of Ukraine is looking more likely by the day as 100,000 troops are stationed at the Russian border.

Washington has argued that the West has leverage over Russia because the pipeline is not yet up and running.

As Russia has been pushing for the pipeline’s approval, it has been argued that the threat to scrap the project could deter Russia from invading Ukraine.

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Mr Scherba also believes that the project should be stopped.

He said: “Ideally Nord Stream 2 should be stopped. It would be the right thing to do – politically and historically.

“If, however, the EU isn’t strong enough to do the right thing, then, at least, it should try to make sure that NS2 wouldn’t be used to kill off Ukraine’s gas transportation system including the largest underground storage facility on the continent.”

The Kremlin denies that Nord Stream 2 would be used as a “weapon”, and have pointed out that it would be able to double gas volumes travelling into Europe.

It has also claimed that the pipeline’s approval would ease EU gas prices as an energy crisis unfolds across the continent.

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