Russia has assured the United States that it will not abuse Nord Stream 2. NATO’s Baltic allies are skeptical.
Top diplomats in NATO’s Baltic member states are skeptical of German-US assurances that Russia will not be able to weaponize natural gas delivered to Germany via the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is set to start sending gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea in the coming months.
The proposal, which is presently seeking permission from German regulators before it can begin operations, was discussed with top ministers in Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania by Washington Newsday.
With Europe engulfed in an energy crisis, Russia has positioned itself as the EU’s savior.
However, for the Baltic states bordering Russia, Nord Stream 2—the second pipeline in the Nord Stream project, which doubles the network’s overall capacity—is a blatantly geopolitical project designed to undermine EU and NATO security, give Russia more leeway in Ukraine, and give Moscow valuable leverage over its European adversaries.
In July, Germany and the United States released a joint statement declaring that Moscow will not be permitted to use Nord Stream 2 to harm European nations’ interests. Berlin and Washington, D.C. have threatened sanctions and other actions if it attempts.
However, there is little expectation in the Baltic states that the Kremlin will follow the norms.
“After all the assurances we’ve had from the US and Germany, there’s no reason to be complacent,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkvis told The Washington Newsday. “You have complete freedom to make whatever political declaration or commitment you want. However, the Russian Federation faces no legal consequences.
“It’s a little early to say whether Germany and the US will follow through on their commitments or statements…announced.”
“There’s nothing to dissuade us that Russia isn’t going to use it as a geopolitical instrument,” Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Vice Minister Mantas Adomnas told The Washington Newsday. “So far, I haven’t seen any realistic systems that would assure that.”
The pipeline is “a geopolitical endeavor,” not just an economic venture, according to Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets.
“Of course, this US-German accord is significant,” she continued. “These actions will be employed if the gas supplier engages in any kind of manipulation. Then, of course, there’s the matter of any. This is a condensed version of the information.