Presidents Biden and Putin are meeting in Geneva on June 16—on almost the very day that the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline can begin pumping gas from Russia to Europe. The timing of this technological achievement is a public relations victory for Putin, since the United States had long tried to prevent the pipeline from being constructed and will still try to keep it from being used to the extent that Russia hopes.
The $11 billion pipeline will pump gas from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea, to supplement the energy being transferred by the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline. On June 4, Putin announced, “Several days are needed now to bring two pipes together. Now pipes should be lifted from both sides, the one that comes from the German coast and from the Russian coast, weld them—and that is all. Probably, about ten days will be needed.” Ten days would be only two days before the Geneva summit.
The pipeline was more than two years behind schedule because of financial and legal sanctions by US and the EU, who worry that it will give Russia undue control over European energy supplies. Germany wants the pipeline, though recognizing Russia’s motive: to avoid paying transit fees to Ukraine for sending energy through its existing pipeline.
Nevertheless, President Biden saw the impossibility of preventing the completion of Nord Stream 2, so last month he waived additional sanctions against the pipeline’s operators.
_Source: Henry Foy for Financial Times, June 4. ft.com/content/b9f4af6edeef-473d-b4fd-0329ab1f1d03_