, 25 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
It took me a while, but I believe that picking a bone with this piece by @zeitonline zeit.de/politik/deutsc… makes sense even today. And that’s because it provides a smoking gun proof that the German public opinion is being misled, if not lied to about Nord Stream 2 [THREAD]
Harsh words? Well, listening to Chancellor Merkel during #MSC2019, when she tried to justify the construction of NS2 with the need to avoid letting Russia become more dependent on China (sic!) made me think that German authorities are beginning to look for the most outlandish
arguments to defend a project that has become impossible to defend on pretty much any grounds. Yet, since it had become „too big to fail” (more than 700 km of pipe already sitting on the Baltic seabed, billions of euros invested), Berlin found it necessary to run with it.
This makes it all the more important to counter the narrative present in the German public sphere. I believe in the power of social media, so I hope that my rebuttal will travel far and wide. I’ll address all seven „facts” laid out in the „Zeit” piece to prove my case. Here goes:
1. No, NS2 is not a „private business project”. It’s being built by Gazprom, a company owned by the Russian state. No, it does not have „all necessary approvals”—the Danish authorities still haven’t issued theirs. Gas delivered via NS2 will *not* flow „mostly to the Netherlands”
The land part of NS2—the OPAL pipeline—leads to the German-Czech border, and is being built by a JV between Gazprom and Wintershall (one of creditors of NS2).

2. NS2 is not a „purely German project”. True. Austrian OMV, French Engie, Dutch-British Shell are all involved, thus
there can be no talk of „isolation”. But this is not the problem. Rather, this project is advertised as pursued for sake of „European energy security”. Nothing can be farther from the truth. It’s meant to solidify Gazprom’s position on CEE markets, it does not aid diversification
3. Gazprom (Russia) is a reliable natural gas supplier. Russian clients in CEE would probably beg to differ on this. Take Poland as an example: Gazprom *routinely* tests Polish ability to deal with disruptions in gas deliveries. It would even be fair to say that it uses hybrid
tactics to inflict economic costs upon Poland: in June 2017, when Poland received its first LNG shipment from the US, Gazprom introduced water into the Polish gas transmission system, thus making it impossible to withdraw gas from the Yamal pipeline.
4. The piece seems to suggest that with NS2 in place, the hitherto „problems” with gas transit via Ukraine would be solved: obsolete infrastructure, corruption, disputes about transit costs. But it also overlooks the fact that Russia is waging war against Ukraine, and the ability
to completely halt transit via this country (together with deliveries via the South Stream, also under construction) would mean that Ukraine would lose not just an important source of budget income, but also the last bulwark against an all-out assault on Russia’s part.
5. The EU—the piece mentions Germany as the principal source of additional demand—will need more gas in the future. Well, this remains to be seen, but even if forecasts hold, then why build a pipeline that would bring gas to CEE clients, rather than Germany (see no 1)? Is it
really about „keeping German homes warm in wintertime” (an argument I’ve heard from prominent German experts last year), or rather to make sure that CEE states would be stuck with Russian gas („reliability” of Gazprom—see no 3)? NS1 and NS2 will run parallely, but will serve
different clients. NS1 can run smoothly, while NS2 could experience „technical problems”, impacting only one group of clients, leaving other unscathed.

6. Germany (and Merkel) are not held hostage by Russia (and Putin). The argument could be reversed, though. Has German
policy of „Wandel durch Handel”—an assumption that Russia can be „socialized” and made to behave with the sufficient degree of trade/economic relations—worked? It’s obviously a rhetorical question. Neither Russian policy nor Russian rhetoric became less hostile even as
the construction of NS2 progressed (think about the November 2018 incident in the Black Sea, when Russian navy illegally seized Ukrainian vessels and hijacked Ukrainian sailors). So where is this „mutual dependence”? Where is the price for Russia’s escalations, so that it hurts?
7. At the end of the day, so the piece in „Die Zeit”, all those who oppose NS2 on strategic-political grounds are in fact driven by economic considerations (so it makes German claims that NS2 is a „purely commercial venture” more credible). Trump is only after US LNG exports.
Poland is building a pipeline of her own to Norway, via Denmark. Poles want to sell this gas (as well as LNG from the USA) to others in CEE.

Let’s set a few things straight.
Yes, there is an economic rationale behind a pipeline to Norway: it *would increase* diversification of supply of gas to Poland and CEE. Germany should understand the merits of having the *possibility* of buying gas from different directions. For many years, CEE states did not
enjoy such benefits, overpaying for Russian gas—simply because they lacked alternatives. Diversification helps bring the costs down. NS2 doesn’t increase diversification of either routes or sources of supply. Not everything that Russia does in the gas sector has a „geopolitical”
rationale behind it. However, when Russia has a (geo)political goal to achieve, she is going to use her energy-related assets: infrastructure ownership, deliveries, ability to offer rebates, and the like. This is why *having alternatives matters* and extends beyond purely
economic considerations. This is why, among other things, Poland and other CEE states (all of them German allies, by the way) opposed NS2 long before Trump time.

I acknowledge the level of German antipathy towards the sitting US president. But to argue that Nord Stream 2 should
be built because otherwise „Trump would have his way” is a rather silly argument. Let’s not forget that it’s not just the US president that is critical of this pipeline, so are members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. Some say that if three people tell you that
you are drunk, then maybe it would be a good idea to at least lie down and have a rest. Germany’s infatuation with more and more Russian gas might fit this scenario.
In sum, if these seven „facts” is what drives/animates the German debate about NS2, then I’d argue that Germans are being served a very distorted, biased interpretation of actual state of play.

It’s up to them to figure out why. Hope these few tweets help.

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