Germany halts Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline amid heightening Russia-Ukraine tensions

Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz has announced that the certification process for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia has been halted, following the latest geopolitical developments in East Ukraine.

“This may sound technical, but it is the necessary administrative step without which the pipeline cannot be certified,” Scholz said at a press conference in Berlin at midday. “Without this certification Nord Stream 2 cannot go into operation.”

Scholz said he has commissioned a new assessment into Germany’s energy security in light of the escalating Russian military presence along the Ukrainian border. The US$11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline, owned by Russia’s state-backed energy giant Gazprom, has been built to carry gas from Western Siberia to Germany’s Northeast.

The German leader described Vladimir Putin’s recognition of two Russian-controlled territories in East Ukraine as a ‘grave breach’ of international law that broke with decades of agreements between Russia and the West. “The situation today is fundamentally different,” he said.

The construction of Nord Stream 2 was completed last September and its operator says it is already filled with gas and ready to go into use, pending permission from German authorities.