The title tells most of it. I explain why I think Putin is playing with gas, not oil and the EU and German vulnerabilities.
Now, German storage will not be able to be filled to the ministry’s target level of 95% by November, according to the Federal Transmission System chief, Mr. Klaus Muller – in fact, even if NS1 were still flowing at 40%.
Not only that, although Energy Minister Habeck has agreed to bring back online all the coal power plants possible, in fact Germany has a poorly thought-out over dependence on wind and it simply is not blowing much this summer. So, in actuality, we are burning more gas now to produce electricity than last year – a complete waste of gas. Also, the Rhine is low and coal barges are having difficulty delivering coal to power plants.
In this live interview with Deutsche Welle (DW.de) on 12 February, I told host Christoph Kober, that this pipeline is clearly “geopolitical”.
Without Nord Stream 2, Putin can’t significantly escalate his war inside Ukraine; he’d risk his lucrative gas-export business with EU. That’s because, without Nord Stream 2, most of the gas Russia exports to EU countries currently has to arrive via pipelines transiting Ukraine that belong to its finance ministry (the remainder Russia pipes to EU states arrives via Belarus-Poland).
I pointed out that, by invading Ukraine in 2014, Putin created his own worries about his lucrative gas business with the EU. Unfortunately for Ukraine, Germany’s government also frets about this gas, fully 40% of all EU imports, having to pass through Ukraine. And so, Berlin made a “realpolitik” decision in 2015, to assist Russia’s Gazprom to build a huge new a detour pipeline around Ukraine. (I analyzed this policy, in 2017, as a “Neue Neue Ost Politik” and here – i.e., the New New Eastern Politics, a third historical iteration of German elites’ reorientations towards Moscow.)