Will Moscow exert political pressure in Europe through North Stream II?

The latest mass arrests by the Russian government have prompted European politicians to demand sanctions against Russia. Last week, the European Parliament voted in favor of a non-binding resolution halting construction of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that will transport Russian gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea.

The goal is to punish Moscow where it hurts the most, but experts say it won’t work.

“At the moment, any delay in the construction of Nord Stream 2 will not affect in the long term. It would suffer delays if it were sanctioned today, but it would be finalized anyway and the consequences would not be so serious, especially now with the covid, where we have seen a reduction in gas demand. And of course if Nord Stream did not offer what was expected, we have other alternatives to bring the necessary gas to the European Union “, says Jean-Arnold Vinois, from the Jacques Delors Institute think tank.

The gas pipeline is almost finished, but its construction has drawn much criticism and divided the European Union. Opponents consider that the gas pipeline is a maneuver by Russia to bypass traditional transit countries such as Ukraine or Poland, but Angela Merkel disagrees. Berlin continues to point out the economic benefits for all of Europe by having cheap gas, even if it is Russian.

“The Germans are in a strange state that neither the Europeans nor the Americans understand. They claim that it is a purely commercial project and that Germany has the right to carry it out. They skip European legislation, because they have effectively found a legal loophole to build it. and they want to move on with it, “says Gustav Gressel, European Council on Foreign Relations.

The most critical voices claim that Germany does not think about security issues: Europe would become dependent on Russian gas, which would allow Moscow to exert a potential force on its western neighbors. An argument long held by Washington. But to German proponents of the project, it sounds distant and dishonest.

“If we abandon nuclear power and coal at the same time, we need natural gas as a vulnerable bridge to the hydrogen age. Seen like this, the end of Nord Stream is the beginning of US liquefied gas. It is much more expensive and polluting, but It is a business for the United States. So for the United States, be it Trump or Biden, Nord Stream is not about security interests, but about its own fracking or hydraulic fracturing business at the expense of the environment, “explains the German MEP of the European People’s Party Markus Pieper.

The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline remains controversial because not all of Europe does not seem ready to accept that trading with Russia for energy can come at a double price.