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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Nord Stream 2 ‘bad for Europe’, could undermine Poland’s interests: Blinken

23.03.2021 13:15
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Tuesday the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline being built from Russia to Germany could undermine the interests of a number of NATO allies, including Poland, news agencies reported.
Audio
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference at a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference at a NATO Foreign Ministers' meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. Photo: EPA/YVES HERMAN

Speaking on a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels, Blinken said US President Joe Biden “believes the pipeline is a bad idea, bad for Europe, bad for the United States.”

He added that the project was ultimately “in contradiction” to the “security goals” of the 27-nation European Union.

He also said, as quoted by the Reuters news agency, that the contested pipeline “has the potential to undermine the interests of Ukraine, Poland and a number of close partners and allies.”

Blinken told reporters that a US law required the administration in Washington to impose sanctions on companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 project, Poland's PAP news agency reported.

Blinken was speaking on his first visit to NATO’s Brussels headquarters after becoming US secretary of state, ahead of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in the Belgian capital.

'Action must be taken to stop this project': Polish deputy FM

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński welcomed Blinken’s statement, saying it “confirmed what Poland has been saying” about the Nord Stream 2 project “for a long time.”

“We hope that the Western world, both the United States and all EU and NATO countries, will be more decisive and consistent on this issue,” Jabłoński told Polish state news agency PAP in a comment.

“Action must be taken to stop this project, which is political and de facto military in nature—not a business project,” he added.

Paweł Jabłoński Paweł Jabłoński. Photo: PAP/Piotr Nowak

Poland’s top diplomat Zbigniew Rau, who was among those gathered for the NATO meeting in Brussels, last month called on US President Joe Biden to use all means at his disposal to stop Russia’s controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

In an opinion piece written jointly with Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and published by the Politico news service, Rau said that the Nord Stream 2 project threatened to “violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” while “showing blatant disregard for international law.”

Minister spraw zagranicznych Zbigniew Rau Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau. Photo: EPA/Adam Berry

NATO foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday to set the stage for the alliance’s upcoming summit, according to the nato.int website.

On Tuesday, they are expected to debate the NATO 2030 initiative to “future-proof the Alliance.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said ahead of the meeting: “We must be bold and ambitious to build a stronger Alliance for the future, because we live in a more dangerous and competitive world, where challenges know no borders.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Photo: EPA/YVES HERMAN

The foreign ministers are also expected to continue their consultations about NATO’s presence in Afghanistan and assess the alliance’s approach to the Middle East and North Africa.

On Wednesday, allies will be joined by partner nations Finland and Sweden as well as the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell for a discussion on Russia.

NATO's Stoltenberg said: “Russia continues to suppress peaceful dissidents at home, and display a pattern of aggressive behaviour abroad, including with cyber attacks and attempts to interfere in our elections and undermine our democracies.

"As an Alliance, we remain committed to our dual-track approach to Russia: strong deterrence and defence, combined with openness to meaningful dialogue, including on issues such as arms control.”

NATO foreign ministers are meeting in person in Brussels for the first time in more than a year, with strict health measures in place.

Nord Stream 2, designed to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream undersea gas pipeline, is expected to send around 55 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas a year directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea while bypassing the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine.

Poland has strongly criticised the gas link amid concerns that the pipeline will make the European Union more dependent on Russian gas.

Poland’s minister for European affairs, Konrad Szymański, warned in an opinion piece last year that Nord Stream 2, if completed, would make Europe economically dependent on Russia.

In September, then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that America was working to build a coalition of countries to stop the gas link from being completed.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last year that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would allow Russia to buy weapons with European money.

Morawiecki has previously called Nord Stream 2 “a new hybrid weapon” aimed at the European Union and NATO.

(gs/pk)

Source: PAP, Reuters, nato.int

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