Germany halts certification of Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia over Ukraine crisis

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Feb. 22 (UPI) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday that his government is suspending certification of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline as a direct result of Russia’s troop movement concerning Ukraine.

The $11 billion, 750-mile Nord Stream 2 pipeline was completed last summer and can carry gas from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany, and Europe. Without certification, however, the line will carry no gas.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday declared that the separatist-held Donestk and Lugansk regions of eastern Ukraine were “independent” and subsequently moved “peacekeeping” Russian troops into those areas. The regions, known collectively as the Donbass, are breakaway regions that seceded from Ukrainian government control nearly a decade ago and declared themselves to be “people’s republics.”

Western governments, including Germany and the United States, have warned Putin for weeks against invading Ukraine and see Monday’s movements as a provocation.

Russian armored vehicles are seen on a road in the Rostov region of Russia on Tuesday. Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA-EFE

“In light of the most recent developments we must reassess the situation in particular regarding Nord Stream 2,” Scholz said, according to CNBC. “The appropriate departments of the economy ministry will make a new assessment of the security of our supply in light of what has changed in the last few days.”

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Scholz said that he made the move to halt the pipeline’s certification, which would also hurt Germany economically, over fears that a new world war could rise in Eastern Europe and that Germany has a duty to act.

Nord Stream 2 is designed to carry twice the amount of gas from Russia to Germany.

Late Monday, Putin published decrees that declared the Donestk and Lugansk regions as independent for a 10-year period. Since breaking away from Ukrainian control in 2014, no other nation had recognized their independence until Putin did so Monday. Most of the international community considers those regions parts of Ukraine.

The move drew immediate measures from the West, including economic sanctions. The European Union proposed a ban on purchases of Russian bonds, sanctions for all members of Russian Parliament and freezing assets on three Russian banks with links to the two Ukrainian regions.