Speaking to the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, Peter Altmaier was quizzed about Donald Trump’s 2018 comments that Berlin is “a captive” of Russia, when it comes to gas supplies.
Altmaier brushed off the argument, saying that Germany “will never be susceptible to blackmail.” What’s more, there is no reason to believe that Moscow will somehow neglect its commitments and hamper gas supplies, given that it’s been safely providing energy to Germany for decades, he argued.
Over the past 40 years Germany had only good experiences in gas trade with Russia.
Even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Moscow stuck to its obligations and “I do not doubt [its] contract compliance,” the minister maintained. However, Berlin is still looking to diversify its energy supplies and is also keen to keep Ukraine as a transit country for gas that flows into Europe.
That said, completing the Nord Stream 2 project is in the “interest of our security of [energy] supplies,” Altmaier said. The pipeline is running underneath the Baltic Sea and is meant to directly link Russia and Germany to cover the rising gas demands of the European Union.
The enterprise has been a thorn in Washington’s side for quite a while, as it is trying to boost sales of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe. On Thursday, US senators from Republican and Democratic parties presented a resolution, which calls to cancel the project.
Last month, in a bid to put a spanner in the works for the Nord Stream 2, the US ambassador to Germany reportedly threatened to punish German companies for their contribution to the project.
The news, which was broken by the Bild tabloid, triggered a fierce response from Berlin, with a top Left Party MP saying that the US envoy “seems to make an impression that he is a viceroy of the Washington emperor.”
Nord Stream 2 is set to enter its final stages this year, with the project having already received the greenlight by Germany, Finland and Sweden. Nonetheless, several EU states, including Poland and Lithuania,have issued their concerns, partly echoing Washington’s mantra of 'dependence' on Russia as a gas supplier.
Talking to Welt am Sonntag, Altmaier clarified that Berlin is paying great attention to these concerns of European partners. He reminded though, that “there has been a lot of ideologically motivated criticism” of this “very important” project.
Moscow, in the meantime, maintains that the project serves the interests of both Russia and the EU, while the White House simply tries to push ahead with its own financial interests.