Hardly any major infrastructure project is as controversial as the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. It could soon deliver around 55 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia to Europe every year. But many European countries and the USA are against the project, the conflict is putting a strain on relations with Germany.
Nord Stream 2 could also become a controversial topic before the general election. The Russia rapporteur of CDU/ CSU parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, Roderich Kiesewetter, is in favor of the Union taking a critical stance in the election campaign.
»Nord Stream 2 is primarily a geopolitical project with which Russia mainly to the elimination of the Ukraine from the gas transit Europe aims, ”writes Kiesewetter in a“ Handout on Russia Issues, ”which SPIEGEL has received. The CDU external expert wrote the paper as an argumentation aid for the federal election campaign. In this he distinguishes himself from the claim that Nord Stream 2 is a "purely economic project".
The Chancellor has long had this attitude Angela Merkel represented, also CDU boss and candidate for chancellor Armin Laschet recently used the term in a foreign policy discussion. The economic politicians of the CDU see it similarly.
The attitude of the experts of the CDU for foreign policy, on the other hand, is mostly skeptical to negative. "From a content and rhetorical point of view, it has been a political project from the start that creates unnecessary transit capacities," writes Kiesewetter.
Against "romanticizing hopes" and "symbolically imposed sanctions"
In his paper he lists several arguments against the German-Russian project. He writes that the pipeline is opening Moscow "The option of increasing political and military pressure on Ukraine without endangering the gas business with Western Europe." From an economic point of view, the gas transit associated with Nord Stream 2 is "of minor importance", since the majority of Russian export income is generated from the sale of oil.
Without the new pipeline, an important driver for the development of new natural gas reserves in the arctic regions of Russia would be lost. "Such an expansion of gas production in the sensitive Arctic regions is also problematic for ecological reasons," said Kiesewetter. Unless Russia produces green hydrogen and Nord Stream 2 is used for it.
The CDU foreign politician also criticizes what he sees as the lack of coordination between the federal government and European partners. However, he speaks out against a construction freeze; it is too late for that. "In view of the advanced status of the project and the billions in compensation to be expected, the pipeline should now be soberly built after a moratorium has been examined," writes Kiesewetter.
Completion is not necessarily linked to the purchase of natural gas. When the plant goes into operation, it should therefore be "linked to the security of supply for the Eastern Europeans and linked to verifiable Russian guarantees that will secure the prospect of direct delivery of fixed minimum quantities of natural gas to the Ukraine."
Chancellor candidate Laschet had also considered a possible stop of the gas transit. It was with the Russian President Wladimir Putin Rules have been agreed, said Laschet recently at the discussion event of the Munich Security Conference. Should Putin use Nord Stream 2 against Ukraine, "it can be stopped again at any time, even when the pipeline is ready, because then the basis for business is gone."
»Sober and realistic image of Russia«
Kiesewetter's paper takes stock of German-Russian relations and mainly addresses issues between Berlin and Moscow one. The CDU external expert advocates a “sober and realistic image of Russia”. "Romanticizing hopes" on possibilities of influence in the sense of the concept "change through trade" would have to be assessed realistically.
Kiesewetter states that Russia is purposefully pursuing its strategic interests. "A soothing attitude and symbolically imposed sanctions do not lead to any change in behavior and therefore have no substantial effect."