Putin’s slap in the face: German journalist admits Merkel outflanked over Nord Stream 2

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German journalist Reinhard Veser has slammed the outgoing Chancellor for brushing “all political arguments against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline” under the carpet. It is due to replace the original Nord Stream pipeline which runs from Russia to Europe through Ukraine.

Work began on the second stream in 2011 and its first stage was completed on Friday despite intense pressure from the EU Parliament and the US to suspend the project.

It runs under the Baltic Sea and, unlike its predecessor, does not travel through Ukraine.

Critics have voiced fears that allowing its completion would only increase the Russian President’s sway over the EU.

Despite the intense pressure, Germany has so far refused to block the project which has proceeded despite international sanctions being imposed on Russia following its action in Ukraine and Salisbury.

Germany is heavily reliant on Russian gas and critics believe it fears the economic damage of losing it more than a meddling and aggressive Russian state.

Mr Veser, the political editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, echoed this view and blasted Mrs Merkel.

He wrote in the newspaper: “For years, the German government has brushed aside all political arguments against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

“It was an exclusively economic project that would not harm Ukraine, because Germany would ensure that it remains a transit country for Russian gas.

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“Supporters talked a lot about Ukraine’s – quite significant – income from gas transit, as if Nord Stream 2 was really about the economy.

“But they ignored the actual argument against the pipeline: that Ukraine is more vulnerable to political and military attacks from Russia if the Kremlin were no longer economically dependent on the undisturbed transit of its most important export goods via the country.

“Vladimir Putin’s thanks for Berlin’s loyal support is a verbal slap in the face.

“On the day Russia claims that the first strand of Nord Stream 2 has been completed, he demands ‘goodwill’ from Ukraine in return for the continuation of the gas transit.

“Thankfully, the president also immediately said what he meant by this.

“The country attacked by his troops should no longer use the proceeds for its defence.”

On Friday, Mr Putin formally announced that the first stage of the controversial pipeline was complete.

He told a crowd at the St Petersburg Economic Forum: “I’m glad to announce that today two and a half hours ago, the laying of the first line of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was successfully completed.

“Work on the second line continues.

“On the German side, the pipes have arrived.

“On the Russian side, they have to be lifted and welded, that’s all. But the laying itself is finished.”

He also spoke about the modernisation of energy to achieve carbon neutrality and proposed other countries be vaccinated with the Sputnik V vaccine.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg

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