Angela Merkel has been undertaking a farewell tour before she steps down as chancellor. Her latest stop was Kyiv – to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Ukraine is a key German ally – but it’s bitterly disappointed that Germany will soon open the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, linking it with Russia. It runs parallel to an existing connection, but doubles its capacity. Kyiv has always argued that the pipeline makes no economic sense – and that Russia wants to use it to isolate Ukraine – politically and economically.
Angela Merkel’s final visit to Kyiv as chancellor covered a lot of ground. The conflict in eastern Ukraine and the economy were important, but it was Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that took center stage.
Ukraine fears Russia could cut off its gas while keeping western Europe supplied. But Merkel said Russia would face consequences if that were to happen.
Merkel has tried to balance Ukrainian and Russian interests, but that has frequently frustrated Kyiv.
Most analysts believe she pushed for EU sanctions against Moscow over its annexation of Crimea. But then Berlin approved Nord Stream 2, which links Russia under the Baltic Sea with Germany. The pipeline completely bypasses Kyiv, which would lose billions in annual transit fees.
Ukrainian leaders hoped that US pressure would stop the project, but President Joe Biden withdrew sanctions after meeting Merkel last month. The chancellor has stressed Germany’s “special responsibility” toward Kyiv, but for now no deal has yet been struck to guarantee that.
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