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Home News German president riles Ukraine with Nord Stream 2 remarks

German president riles Ukraine with Nord Stream 2 remarks

Published on 09/02/2021

Germany came under fire again for its defence of Nord Stream 2 Tuesday, as Ukraine’s ambassador condemned German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s recent comments on the controversial gas pipeline.

In a statement seen by AFP, ambassador Andrij Melnyk said Steinmeier’s reference to World War II victims in his defence of the pipeline project was “inappropriate” and “misleading”.

Speaking at the weekend to the daily Rheinische Post about the pipeline, Steinmeier said energy relations were a “last bridge” in the widening gap in relations between Europe and Russia.

“For us Germans, there is also another dimension,” he added, pointing out that 20 million Soviet citizens were killed during World War II following Nazi Germany’s invasion of the USSR in 1941, the 80th anniversary of which is approaching this year.

The “terrible bloodshed” did not “justify any mistakes in our policies towards Russia today, but we must not lose sight of the bigger picture,” said Steinmeier.

Ambassador Melnyk said Steinmeier’s comments had been met with “bewilderment” in Ukraine.

“It seems inappropriate to use controversial historical analogies to launch a passionate defence of a Russian gas pipeline,” he said, adding that Nord Stream 2 “threatens European security and massively weakens Ukraine.

“It is misleading to conflate German-Russian history with the millions of Soviet victims of Germany’s destructive war,” Melnyk continued, pointing out that eight million people had also been killed in Ukraine during World War II.

Germany has long irked allies with its stubborn defence of the Nord Stream 2 project.

The 10-billion-euro ($11-billion) pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea is set to double Russian natural-gas shipments to Germany, Europe’s largest economy.

The United States and several European countries have criticised the project, saying it will increase German and EU dependence on Russia for critical gas supplies.

The pipeline also avoids Ukraine, depriving Kiev of gas transit fees.