Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Nord Stream 2: Putin's bizarre statements at the SPIEF

 German newspaper BILD has compiled to most bizarre assertions of Putin at the SPIEF:

Lies have short legs - especially when you are the president of the largest country in the world and listen carefully to a critic from near and far.

At the Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg, Russia's ruler Vladimir Putin gave his eagerly awaited speech on Friday. Particularly important from a German point of view: its inlets to the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2 - and the associated dwindling gas flows through Ukraine.

What Putin delivered was a mixture of half-truths and announcements that exposed his earlier promises and treaty signings as lies. Also and especially to Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel personally, whose word supposedly carries so much weight with Russia's autocratic leader.

Claim 1: Nord Stream 2 tube completed

Putin's claim that the first strand of Nord Stream 2 was as good as finished caused the greatest excitement. Putin proudly announced: "Two and a half hours ago the laying of the first pipeline of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was successfully completed."

Now all that remains to be done is to “lift and weld parts of the pipe on the Russian side. That is all, ”said Putin.

"The laid sections of the pipeline must now be connected to each other," said the spokesman for Nord Stream 2 AG, Steffen Ebert.

To connect the pipe elements south of Bornholm, the pipeline first has to be lifted from the seabed. It is then combined in a complex process on board the laying ships. According to BILD information, Nord Stream 2 AG has estimated 15 days for this at the responsible federal office alone.

Claim 2: Gas will flow through Nord Stream 2 in ten days

Putin claims that "natural gas supplies through the first leg of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline can begin in about ten days".

Total nonsense, as numerous experts noted on social media.

The US energy expert Benjamin L. Schmitt also vigorously contradicted Putin's claim. On Twitter he wrote: "10 days !? Pure Putin propaganda. Months are required for the preliminary acceptance and commissioning work, then certification (with the risk of sanctions that may block this step), then EU and German official approvals. "

Sascha Müller-Kraenner, Federal Managing Director of Deutsche Umwelthilfe, on BILD: “As is well known, the Kremlin does not always hold true to the truth. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is neither completed nor will it happen in the short term, as our application to the licensing authority to review the massive climate impacts is still pending. "

Claim 3: No commitment to Ukraine

Finally, Putin addressed the consequences of the allegedly soon-to-start operation of Nord Stream 2 for archenemy Ukraine, which Putin has been covering with war and behavior contrary to international law for years.

When asked whether Russia would continue to route gas through Ukraine, he coldly replied: “Do you think we have an obligation to feed everyone through? Do we have such an obligation: to feed everyone? "

Then he announced, according to the Reuters news agency: "Ukraine must show goodwill if it wants the Russian gas transit to Europe and the associated fees to be maintained."

I beg your pardon? It was not until December 2019 that Russia and Ukraine agreed on the passage of firmly guaranteed gas volumes for the next five years.

Germany had praised itself for this and attached Russia's contractual promise of throughput volumes as an argument against the US sanctions against Nord Stream 2. Even Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of a “good and important signal” and thanked Russia and Ukraine for the delivery compromise during the future operation of Nord Stream 2.

So everything is different now? No, says Nord Stream expert and Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer to BILD: Much worse!

“Putin's new statement does not mean a change of heart. He just says again clearly what the purpose of Nord Stream 2 was from the beginning: To be able to increase the Russian pressure on Ukraine. ”The verbal and written“ pledges for further gas transmission through Ukraine were only a fig leaf for Merkel, Scholz and Altmaier thought ”, so the criticism of the Green politician against BILD.

The federal government has "played Putin in the paper out of self-interest to the detriment of our neighbors, and now he thanks him in his own way."

The Swedish expert on Eastern Europe and Putin book author Anders Åslund also sees Putin's remarks as an oath of disclosure. He told BILD that Putin does admit that "Russia has signed a contract with Ukraine for the delivery of 40 billion cubic meters per year for five years". At the same time, his sudden condition that Ukraine must “show goodwill” for this shows impressively, “Putin's habit of violating international agreements and lying”.

In Sankt Petersurg, the Russian President "once again showed with his lies and statements that he cannot be trusted," Putin expert Åslund told BILD.

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