The Nord Stream is a system of pipelines for the transport of natural gas from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea. The first Nord Stream was completed in 2011 and connected Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany. Nord Stream 2 was initially scheduled to be completed at the end of 2019, connecting Ust-Luga in Russia with Greifswald in Germany.
Germany is a big supporter of the Nord Stream pipelines, as it allows the country to receive gas directly from Russia for cheaper as opposed to the Russian gas that flows through Ukraine or Poland. The pipelines also save Russia a significant amount of money, as Ukrainian tariffs on gas transit are relatively high. However, the projects have been strongly criticized by the US. The US views the pipelines as strengthening Russian influence in Europe, increasing Europe’s dependency on Russian gas, and subsequently weakening transatlantic cooperation.
As a result, in December 2019, the US Senate voted to pass the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA). The NDAA covers an extensive range of military and defense spending and policies, including levying sanctions against companies involved with inlaying the Nord Stream 2. The pipeline was initially scheduled to be finished at the end of 2019. However, due to a delay caused by Denmark’s concern over the pipeline going through their territorial waters, the finish date was moved to mid-2020. This delay gave the US time to pass the NDAA, which further pushed the finish date to 2021. Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference in January 2020: “at the end of this year, or the beginning of next, the pipeline will be operational”.
Policy Brief – Ryan Jacobsen, January 2021
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