Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Denmark’s approval for Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to pump gas to Germany “strengthens Russia and weakens Europe”.
“This is not only a matter of energy security, it is a geopolitical issue. This strengthens Russia and weakens Europe,” Zelensky said after Denmark granted state-controlled, de-facto gas export monopoly Gazprom permission to build the pipeline through Danish territory, near the Baltic island of Bornholm.
“We understood that this could happen,” the comedian turned president told a press conference in Kiev. “For my part, I will say that both me and our government were ready for such a decision. We are ready.”
Denmark has removed the last major regulatory hurdle for Gazprom to complete its 1,230km, Vyborg to Lubmin pipeline under the Baltic Sea.
It will bypass Ukraine, which receives approximately US$3 billion in annual transit fees for transmitting Russian gas to the EU.
Critics say the pipeline increases Europe’s dependence on Russia and funds further Russian fossil-fuel exploration in the melting Arctic and the Kremlin’s military expansionism.
Russia’s 40-per-cent share of European gas supplies is seen by many as dangerously high.
Denmark’s Energy Agency announced that it was “obliged to allow the construction of transit pipelines” under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The permit is due to take a month to come into effect, the agency said.
Donald Trump has threatened to impose sanctions on the pipeline project, including western fossil-fuel giants who are part-funding the project.
Gazprom covers around 50 per cent of the €9.5 billion costs, and the rest is coming from European companies Engie, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper and Wintershall.
Trump’s moral high-ground is, however, undermined by his aim to sell more expensive US LNG – extracted from the environmentally ruinous process of fracking – to the EU.
Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed the Danish decision. Denmark “has shown itself to be a responsible international partner, protecting its interests and its sovereignty, as well as the interests of its main partners in Europe”, the veteran president said.
Gazprom expects to complete the pipeline, which is more than 70-per-cent built, in the coming months.
Gazprom sources purportedly said the project’s most complex stretch had been completed.
Gazprom is dependant on the European market. Picture credit: YouTube