Russia has outmaneuvered Kiev by overcoming Western objections to its Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has said, warning that Moscow could cut his country off from energy supplies once it is complete.
The politician made the claims in an interview with Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, published on Monday. He claimed that the pipeline, which will link Siberian gas fields to consumers in Western Europe by means of a conduit under the Baltic Sea, was a “trump card” for Moscow. Now, he claimed, the Kremlin has a “royal flush” because it was supported by leaders in countries like Germany and France.
The new gas line will allow supplies to bypass Ukraine, potentially depriving it of billions of dollars in transit fees. With construction expected to be completed later this year, Zelensky alleged that Russia would turn off the tap when the gas begins to flow through Nord Stream 2 in two or three years. The project, he said, is designed to prevent Ukraine getting another contract.
In 2019, Russian state energy firm Gazprom penned a deal to keep the fuel flowing until 2024, paying an estimated $7 billion for its part in the agreement. The network was built on Moscow’s orders during the Soviet era.
Speaking to RIA Novosti in an interview published on Monday, Dmitry Birichevsky, the director of economic co-operation at the country’s foreign ministry, claimed that fears Russia could turn off the tap on supplies to its neighbor were unfounded. “We have no plan to suspend gas supplies through Ukraine,” he said, insisting that “Russia has never used energy or natural resources as a tool of pressure or blackmail.”
He added that the deal is still valid for another three years and that after it expires, “there will be negotiations between Gazprom and its partners in Ukraine.”
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