Nice New Pipeline You’ve Got There. Shame If Something Happened to It. | National Review

Tthe Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project logo on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

It is good to hear that German chancellor Olaf Scholz and the German government will halt the certification process for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in response to Russia’s recognition of two separatist Ukrainian enclaves, as Zach Evans reports.

The Biden administration may well attempt to spin this as a victory; those of us who do not suffer from attention deficit disorder remember the Biden administration relenting and dropping its objections to the pipeline back in May. The Biden team concluded that objecting to the pipeline wasn’t worth damaging the U.S. relationship with Germany.

But between that unilateral concession, the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and memories of the Obama administration’s soft response to the takeover of Crimea, Vladimir Putin may well have concluded that Joe Biden is a pushover.

Still, halting the certification process is a temporary stop; the pipeline is still there, constructed, waiting to be used. It is not difficult to envision a scenario where the German government finds some excuse to re-open the certification process and start using the pipeline, after issuing the appropriate pro forma objections to Putin’s actions. Up until very recently, the German government didn’t seem all that troubled by the thought of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. And as Elliott Abrams laid out, the two most recent German chancellors, Gerhard Schröder and Angela Merkel put a lot of political capital into the Nord Stream 2 project. (Schröder has been chairman of Russian energy company Rosneft since 2017!) A lot of Germans are invested – politically and economically – in closer ties with Russia, and may be eager to restore the previous status quo as soon as it is politically palatable.

Of course, if something happened to make the Nord Stream 2 pipeline unusable, it is a different story. Hey, what is Andreas Malm doing these days? Where are those eco-radicals when we really need them?

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.