Why has the US changed its mind on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline?

Source: Indian Express

What is the News?

The United States has now signaled its approval for the completion of a Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany.

About Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Project:
  • Nord Stream 2 Pipeline is a 1,200 km-long offshore natural gas pipeline being constructed from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea.
  • Route: The pipeline will run along with the already completed Nord Stream 1 system, and the two together will supply an aggregate of 110 billion cubic meters of gas to Germany per year.
  • Benefits: The pipeline is intended to provide Europe with a sustainable gas supply while providing Russia with more direct access to the European gas market.
Why has the US opposed the Pipeline Project?
  • The US had criticized the project as it believes that the project would increase Europe’s dependence on Russia for natural gas. Currently, EU countries already rely on Russia for 40% of their gas needs.
  • Moreover, the project was also opposed by Ukraine as it believes that once the pipeline is completed, Russia could bypass the existing land pipeline between Russia and Europe that runs through Ukraine and deprive the country of lucrative transit fees.
Why has the US now approved the Project?
  • The United States has approved the Project after it has signed a deal with Germany.
  • The deal lays out that if Russia attempts to use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine. Germany will take steps on its own and push for actions at the EU, including sanctions to limit Russian export capabilities to Europe in the energy sector.
  • The deal also requires Germany to “utilise all available leverage” to extend by 10 years the current Russia-Ukraine gas transit agreement, which expires in 2024.
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