By Roman Grod
Despite the recent military de-escalation, Russian forces continue to hold threatening positions on the eastern front of Ukraine. They have illegally occupied Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula and parts of the Donbas region over the past seven years. Russia’s intentions are clear — re-establish control over Ukraine through military and political intimidation. To date, Russia’s military activities have steered clear of damaging the Brotherhood gas pipeline that connects Russia’s gas supply to western Europe. However, Russia has been building a new pipeline called Nord Stream 2 pipeline to go around Ukraine. It is on track for completion by June 2021 at which point, Russian forces may no longer be concerned with damaging or destroying the Brotherhood pipeline. This will put a crippling hold on Ukraine that relies on Russian gas for survival.
If completed, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would allow for Russian gas to be transported underneath the Baltic sea, directly to Germany. In addition to the serious security implications, the ecological risks of the pipeline are tremendous and will further add to Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions.
As highlighted by Paul Grod, the President of the Ukrainian World Congress, “The completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is a serious threat to peace and security in Europe. War in Ukraine and Eastern Europe will draw in all the Euro-Atlantic countries. Russia’s continued intimidation, deceit, and disregard for international law demonstrate that its leadership cannot be trusted and must be contained.”
Even after the additional sanctions imposed by the government under former president Donald Trump, in the days following President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Russia’s Gazprom, which owns Nord Stream 2, defied these U.S. sanctions by resuming work on the pipeline in waters off Denmark.
Senator Ted Cruz, a co-sponsor of the U.S. sanctions, mentioned in a press release, “I’ve said repeatedly, completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would greatly undermine America’s national security, reward Russia’s aggressive expansionism and crimes, and hold our European allies’ energy security hostage to Russia.”
In the midst of all of this Putin’s continuing aggression in eastern Ukraine, his mobilization of troops on the eastern front shows disregard for Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The completion of Nord Stream 2 will allow Russian troops to further invade the eastern regions of Ukraine under the pretense of defending ethnic Russians or through proxies without risking lucrative Russian gas exports to Europe.
The Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union calls upon the international community to unite and block Nord Stream 2. Crippling sanctions and further economic consequences for Russia are the only option. We must stop Russia’s attempts to subjugate its neighbours and hold Europe hostage.