WARSAW (Reuters) – The Ukraine crisis will play a role in the approval process for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany from Russia, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Friday, striking a more hawkish tone than Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Germany has delayed approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline until at least the second half of 2022, but not cancelled the nearly completed project. U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday the pipeline would be halted if Russia invades Ukraine.
Speaking in Warsaw, Habeck, of the ecologist Greens, said the approval process would be strictly in accordance with European law.
“And on the other hand, the geopolitical assessment will always have an influence on the approval of Nord Stream 2,” he added.
On Monday, Scholz said the United States and Germany had the same approach to Ukraine, to Russia and to sanctions, but he did not mention the pipeline publicly by name over the course of his day-long visit on Washington.
Whether the United States and Germany are on the same page over the $11 billion pipeline project has become a crucial question as the two major democracies lead NATO allies in pushback against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Habeck described the Ukraine situation as “extremely dicey”.
“Every diplomatic effort must be made to de-escalate this situation,” Habeck told reporters, adding that Russia would face hard-hitting sanctions if diplomacy failed.
“I say that knowing that every sanction of course has costs in one’s own economy,” he added.
(Additional reporting by Christian Kraemer; Writing by Paul Carrel, editing by Thomas Escritt, Kirsti Knolle)