This is the gas pipeline of the discord. A project over 9 billion euros that divides Europe and triggers Washington's anger. Its name is Nord Stream 2, a 1,230 kilometer pipeline, the longest in the world, designed to connect Russia and Germany with the Baltic Sea. Its objective: to supply the Old Continent with Russian gas, and mainly Germany, committed to closing its nuclear power plants. Except that the initiative displeases strongly to several countries. Starting with the United States, which castigates Europe's future energy dependence on Moscow. To the point that the White House plans to punish the protagonists. "We have not yet deployed all the instruments that would stop this project," warned Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union. "We do not want to see an actor able to turn off the gas valve to our allies if a political crisis occurs in the middle of winter. "
In fact, Nord Stream 2 is a political weapon. First, because Germany will now import two-thirds of its gas from the Russian giant Gazprom. Secondly, because Ukraine will be deprived of $ 2.8 billion in annual fees related to the transit of gas currently operated in its territory. A shortfall equals 3% of its GDP. What delight the Kremlin, aware that a hole in the coffers of Kiev weakens the team in power.
Poland, standing up against the project, even sees it as a threat to the security of Ukraine. "Since Russia will no longer need its neighbor for the passage of its gas, what will prevent Vladimir Putin from walking on Kiev? Says Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at a conference in Hamburg. In the eyes of Warsaw, it is also NATO that is targeted. "The Russians will take the opportunity to patrol the entire Baltic Sea," warned Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz.
Arguments gladly taken up by Donald Trump. But with a commercial motive. Indeed, the US president intends above all to find new outlets for natural gas produced by his companies and hitherto confined to the South American and Asian markets. Not enough to shake Angela Merkel. The Chancellor reaffirmed her support for the project during a meeting in August with Putin. To buy from the United States would require the construction of a marine terminal and would be more expensive.
Engie in the project
Nevertheless, in Germany the opposition is rising. In an open letter, ninety parliamentarians ask Angela Merkel to give up Nord Stream 2. "You are creating a gap between the members of the European Union when, more than ever, we need cohesion," write -they. In addition to Poland, the "no" camp includes the Baltic countries, the United Kingdom and Denmark, which refuses the passage of the pipe in its territorial waters.
France, on the other hand, refrains from any definite position. Embarrassed by its privileged relationship with Berlin and participation in the project of its flagship industrial Engie, investor up to 10%.
While awaiting possible American sanctions, the first sections of the gas pipeline lay at the bottom of the sea. Two hundred kilometers have already been installed for an inauguration scheduled for the end of 2019 … Probably in the presence of Merkel and Putin.