Merkel’s hypocritical pipeline pact with Putin undermines the Western alliance

The Biden White House and both parties in Congress deem Nord Stream 2 to be alliance treachery - the ‘Molotov-Ribbentrop pipeline’ as it is known in Poland. They are on the warpath

Instead it enables Russia’s monopoly Gazprom to circumvent the Ukrainian Brotherhood pipeline, depriving Ukraine of its chief source of revenue and its strategic leverage. The pipeline is operating far below capacity and can meet any plausible gas needs in the future.

Nord Stream 2 has only two purposes: one is to isolate and suffocate Ukraine, and also to injure Poland by diverting the flows from the Yamal pipeline. It is an instrument of Mr Putin’s revanchiste ambitions. Far from locking him into the West, it makes him more dangerous. 

The other purpose is made clear in a withering (and brave) report by Russian lender Sberbank entitled Tickling Giants. Gazprom is a device to steer boondoggle contracts of no economic logic to Vladimir Putin’s circle, destroying value on an epic scale in the process. “Nord Stream is a plunder project,” said Prof Riley.

We learned why Berlin is so eager to do Putin’s bidding in a leaked EU report in 2018. It revealed that Gazprom had been selling discount gas to Germany at €200 per 1,000 cubic metres while Poland was forced to pay €350, and Bulgaria was treated as a colony. 

It concluded that Gazprom had infringed EU laws systematically, engaged in “abusive behaviour”, charged “unfair prices”, leveraged its “dominant position”, and acted as a foreign policy enforcer for the Kremlin. Commission officials wanted to impose huge fines.

What happened? Brussels covered it up. Competition chief Margrethe Vestager, lionised for confronting Apple and Google, was a pussycat with Gazprom. Berlin prevailed. Rarely do you get such an unvarnished display of how the EU really works.

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