Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Ukraine

Ukraine, Baltic Leaders Slam Russian-German Pipeline Plan

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius (left to right), Ukranian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, and Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas speak to the press after their meeting in Riga on November 5.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius (left to right), Ukranian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, and Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas speak to the press after their meeting in Riga on November 5.

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Ukrainian and the Baltic leaders have criticized a planned second Nord Stream pipeline to funnel natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

The project would cost Ukraine $2 billion a year in lost revenues as it takes away business from the land-based pipeline that transits Ukraine and Poland, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said at a press conference with Baltic leaders in Riga on November 5.

Poland and Slovakia would also lose $300 million and $800 million, respectively, in annual pipeline revenues, while it would deprive the European Union of real energy independence, he said.

"We do believe that this project has nothing based on economic issues -- it is more a political one," he said.

Yatsenyuk, whose government has been fighting Russian-backed separatists since last year in eastern Ukraine, called on the EU to "seriously" examine the issue.

He warned against allowing Moscow to "facilitate a bottleneck and to control the energy market of the EU, too."

Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma said she was "highly concerned" about the project and called for a thorough EU review of the proposed seabed pipeline.

Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas questioned whether the plan was in compliance with EU rules.

"It is quite clear that it would have a very significant negative impact on the gas supply of Ukraine," Roivas said.

Gazprom agreed in June with Western European partners Anglo-Dutch Shell, Germany's E.ON, and Austria's OMV to build the Nord Stream-2 pipeline to Germany to bypass conflict-torn Ukraine but also neighboring Poland.

The route under the Baltic Sea from Russia would have a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year and would double the flow of the existing Nord Stream pipeline currently linking the two countries.

No time frame was given for the deal.

For both Germany and Russia, the new pipeline would eliminate the uncertainty about winter gas supplies caused by a constant tug of war between Ukraine and Russia over gas issues, while it would boost Germany as a distribution hub for Russian gas in Western Europe.

With reporting by AFP and dpa

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