German president tries to soothe Ukraine’s Nord Stream 2 fears
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier sought Tuesday to relieve Ukraine's concerns about the Nord Stream II pipeline, saying it would continue to play its role in gas transit to Europe.
During a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko in Kiev, Steinmeier underlined that Germany was making “efforts to guarantee the future transit of gas by Ukraine”.
According to Steinmeier, there are ongoing discussions on this subject not only between Germany and Ukraine, but also with the European Union.
“I hope (…) that the great fear of Ukraine — that Ukraine will no longer play its role as a transit country in the future — this fear will be groundless,” Steinmeier said.
Meanwhile Poroshenko said Ukraine was “making every effort to convince, including some European partners, that (Nord Stream 2) is a purely political rather than economic project aimed at breaking up the unity of the EU”.
He said the proposal was aimed at harming “the level of security of the entire region, not just the competitiveness of the European economy”.
Germany has supported plans by Russia’s Gazprom to build Nord Stream 2, for which preparatory work has begun and should be completed in 2019.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi on May 18 to discuss the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, criticised by Ukraine and threatened by US sanctions.
The pipeline would call further into question Ukraine’s role as a key transit nation for Russian gas to Europe, but Putin sought to reassure shipments would continue in any case.
“We will continue gas shipments (via Ukraine) as long as they are economically justified,” Putin said during a press conference with Merkel.
For her part, Merkel said that “Germany believes Ukraine’s role as a transit country should continue after the construction of Nord Stream 2… it has a strategic importance”.