Ukraine campaigning Russia’s Nord Stream 1 shipments to be transferred to its own pipeline

Ukraine: Europe shamed over Russia gas sanctions delay

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According to officials, this would increase Kyiv’s leverage in the conflict with Moscow as it would force Russia to move more of its gas bound for Western Europe through Ukraine. This would force Moscow to pay transit fees which could boost Ukrainian wartime funds as well as deterring Russian attacks on the pipelines themselves.

Representatives from Ukraine’s gas pipeline operator and gas firm Naftogaz spent a week in Washington meeting US officials and congressional lawmakers.

They lobbied US officials in order to urge them to convince Germany and other European allies to adopt the plan.

In an interview in Washington, Olga Bielkova, director of international affairs for the Gas Transit System Operator of Ukraine, stated Russia “depends on us transporting gas from Russia to Europe”, Reuters has reported.

She continued: “This is something to leverage in our discussions with them and Europe can help.”

There was no comment from White House officials on the matter or from Germany’s economic ministry.

With the exception of Hungary under the populist Viktor Orban, Germany has been one of the EU countries most reluctant to stop energy supplies from Russia.

On Wednesday, Berlin said it will stop importing oil from Russia by the end of the year “and then gas will follow”, but no specific date was given for when this would happen.

However, Germany has already halted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia following the start of Moscow’s invasion in February. 

This is despite the fact that construction was completed on the $11 billion project late last year.

However, according to analysts, diverting shipments from Nord Stream 1 might be unpopular among EU countries.

According to David Goldwyn, a former State Department special envoy, it “does nothing to increase security of supply to Europe”.

There are also legal implications in terms of breaches of existing contracts. 

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Christian Egenhofer, of the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies, said EU action against Russian imports could represent an illegal breach of supply contracts.

Currently Russia moves 55 billion cubic metres of natural gas to Germany through Nord Stream 1.

They also move around 40 bcm to Europe through Ukraine paying Kyiv transit fees in US dollars.

As Ukraine’s pipeline system has a spare capacity of over 100 bcm it could easily take on the extra capacity.

Daniel Vajdich, an advisor to Nafogaz, argued that moving Nord Stream 1 to the Ukrainian pipeline “would provide Kyiv with more leverage over Moscow and show the Kremlin that Europe is tying its own security to that of Ukraine”.

Officials suggested that 40 percent of Nord Stream 1’s capacity could be redirected to the Ukrainian pipeline immediately, gradually increasing to 100 percent by April 2023.

That would give EU states time to build up winter stockpiles and diversify, reports state.

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