Berlin punishes Moscow by freezing Nord Stream 2

The German government has suspended the approval process for the commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in reaction to Russia's recognition of the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine. Commentators see Berlin's decision as a far-reaching sanction against Moscow. But will it last?

Open/close all quotes (RO) /

Final decision yet to be taken is undecided as to whether the suspension of the Baltic Sea pipeline project will become permanent:

“The question that remains is: will Europeans, and especially Germans, be able to sacrifice energy for the sake of democratic principles? That would be ideal, because there are alternative solutions to Russian gas - except that geopolitics isn't based on feelings but on realities and actions determined by costs and benefits. At present, from the perspective of millions of potential customers it seems impossible to give up Gazprom's mammoth project. At the same time it would be impossible to resume it because of the geopolitical consequences for Ukraine, and also for the sake of Western unity.”

Wprost (PL) /

A historical opportunity

According to Wprost, the decision may mark a real turning point for Berlin:

“Olaf Scholz has the chance to go down in history as the chancellor who ended the dependence on Russian gas, which is dangerous for the security of all Europe. ... So let's keep our fingers crossed that Scholz, whose government initially delivered a pathetic performance in the face of the Russian threat, will now make a sober assessment of the situation. Germany's renunciation of Nord Stream 2 will do far more for Europe's security than empty calls for pacifism and the country otherwise burying its head in the sand.”

Zeit Online (DE) /

Break free from Russian stranglehold

For Zeit Online the time has come for a paradigm shift in energy policy:

“This is overdue from an ecological and security policy point of view. In the current crisis it will not be easy to find a quick substitute for Russian energy exports if Russia really does radically reduce or halt its deliveries in response to the European sanctions. It will be difficult to close this gap with liquefied gas from the US alone, although such a plan has been in the pipeline for some time. The point is to build an energy policy in Germany and Europe that is based primarily on renewable sources and thus breaks free from the Russian stranglehold. This will take a while, but it is possible.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

Germany punishing itself

In freezing the pipeline project Germany is giving in to pressure from the US, Ria Novosti is convinced:

“This testifies to the weakness of the new German head of government, who after prolonged pressure from Washington has given up the nation's interests. ... It also shows what all those speeches about business and politics being separate in Europe, about the independence of market participants and the lack of state influence on regulatory processes are worth. If counter-sanctions are imposed, Berlin will insist once more that the state had nothing to do with it - just as it did with the broadcasting ban for RT DE in Germany. By putting the brakes on Nord Stream 2, Berlin has above all punished itself, its economy and its consumers.”

The Spectator (GB) /

A milestone in western cohesion

This will come as a real shock for Putin, says The Spectator:

“On the whole, it's a big diplomatic win for President Biden, who has been putting huge pressure on Berlin to cancel the pipeline. ... Canning Nord Stream 2 is far from the outcome Putin wanted. That doesn't mean he'll change tack, but it marks an important moment in western cohesion in their attitude towards Russian aggression. If Putin's actions were a test in how far he can assert himself and his army before he gets meaningful pushback, he's just got his first real shock of a swift, and painful, economic response.”