The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is “100 percent anti-Ukrainian,” Ukrainian Deputy Minister for Economy, Trade and Agriculture Taras Kachka said Thursday, but suggested Kyiv could live with the project as long as Brussels helps Ukraine integrate more deeply into EU gas markets.
“The core motivation for Russia is just to punish Ukraine,” Kachka told POLITICO.
Ukraine’s decision to sign a trade deal with the EU sparked Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and a war in eastern Ukraine.
The highly controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, running from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, would cut Kyiv out of a big slice of the profitable business of shipping Russian gas to the EU. Berlin backs the project, setting it at odds with the U.S., Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states in a bitter geopolitical fight.
In recent days, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier reignited tensions by linking the completion of Nord Stream 2 to Germany’s World War II guilt toward the Soviet Union. That outraged Poland and Ukraine — both of which also endured bloodbaths during the war.
The project is under threat from the U.S., which has warned that companies involved in completing the final kilometers of Nord Stream 2 face the threat of sanctions.
Ukraine wants to preserve at least some gas transit across its territory — a crucial source of revenues for the government; Germany has promised that gas flows will continue even if Nord Stream 2 is completed.
Kyiv is also pressing the EU to integrate it more deeply into Europe’s increasingly interconnected gas market, where prices should be set at trading rates, rather than directly by Russia’s Gazprom. Ukraine has also largely reformed its gas market to conform to the bloc’s rules.
“We believe that our adherence to EU rules for the gas market also creates a big business energy system and political solidarity in terms of Nord Stream 2,” said Kachka. He added that one of Ukraine’s priorities was now to start integrating Ukraine’s gas and electricity market with the bloc’s — a topic that is set to be discussed at Thursday’s EU-Ukraine Association Council.
Speaking about Ukraine’s electricity market, he said: “Due to this volatility of the market last year and due to the fact that we are still physically connected to the electricity grid of Russia, we were forced to import a small quantity of electricity from the Russian Federation. And for us, this is a moment of embarrassment [because] integration with the EU is more preferable.”
He added: “That is why nobody considers Russia as a market that we need to depend on.”
Ukraine hasn’t bought gas directly from Russia since 2015, relying instead on interconnectors with Central Europe.
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