You have to choose between Russian gas and the protection of Ukraine, says the British Prime Minister after weeks of escalation between the parties.
The situation between Russia and the West is tense due to several events in Eastern Europe. Belarus is currently trying to push thousands of Middle Eastern migrants over the border to Poland, and Russia is increasing its military presence near Ukraine, which has made the U.S warn of a potential invasion.
The current developments are attracting much attention worldwide, where the French President Emmanuel Macron recently pledged his support to Ukraine after a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where the two presidents are said to have discussed ways to deescalate the current tensions in the region.
According to Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, it is simple what is going on, and the EU stands with a choice. EU will need to decide whether it will stand by the side of Ukraine or whether it values cheap Russian gas more dearly.
“And we hope, I hope, that others may recognize, other European countries may recognize, that a choice is shortly coming, between mainlining ever more Russian hydrocarbons in giant new pipelines, and sticking up for Ukraine and championing the cause of peace and stability – let me put it that way,” Johnson said.
“When we say that we support the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine, that is not because we want to be adversarial to Russia, or that we want in some way strategically to encircle or undermine that great country,” Johnson said, “(but) because we have a commitment to democracy and freedom that is shared now across the vast mass of the European continent.”
Before his statement, the UK pledged to send 600 troops to Ukraine if needed due to the fear of a Russian invasion. The world has been struck by fear of a Russian attack before, such as in Spring, where the fighting between the Russan-backed separatists and Russia increased, and a ceasefire broke.
The war between the Russian-backed separatists and Ukraine broke out in 2014 after the Maidan Revolution that removed former President Viktor Yanukovych and the Russian annexation of Crimea. The war has claimed more than 14,000 lives.
Germany stops Nord Stream 2
Johnson refers to the completion of Nord Stream 2 from Russia to Germany, which is set to deliver cheap Russian gas to the EU. The new pipeline was completed in August and is almost operational. However, it bypasses Ukraine as a transit land, and Ukraine has said that it threatens EU independence and favors Russia.
The U.S. has been against the completion of Nord Stream 2 and previously sanctioned the pipeline’s construction. However, in July, the U.S changed its stand and said that it was impossible to stop the completion and made a deal with Germany.
The Federal Network Agency of Germany recently decided to suspend the procedure to certify the pipeline, arguing that it is because of German law. Others say that it happens due to the confrontation with Russia over Belarus and the military buildup near the Ukrainian border. According to some experts, it can take up to a year to certify the pipeline, which will be a blow to the Russian ambitions.
“The certification procedure will remain suspended until the main assets and human resources have been transferred to the subsidiary, and the Bundesnetzagentur is able to check whether the documentation resubmitted by the subsidiary, as the new applicant, is complete. When these requirements have been fulfilled, the Bundesnetzagentur will be able to resume its examination in the remainder of the four-month period set out in the law,” the Federal Network Agency of Germany said.
Germany and France warns Russia
Russia denies having anything to do with the situation in Belarus and says that Russia isn’t posing any threat to Ukraine. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov recently said that this is “not the first publication, not the first statement by the United States that it is concerned” about Russian Armed Forces movements, according to the Russian news agency Tass and that Russia “poses no threat to anyone.”
In contrast, Russia says that it agreed to work to deescalate the current tensions.
“The heads of the two countries agreed to interact for the purpose of de-escalating the migrant crisis, preventing a growth in tension in energy supplies, and involving the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in providing humanitarian assistance,” reads a document released by France after the phone conversation with Putin.
Recently, Germany and France warned Russia in a joint statement.
“Against the backdrop of renewed concerns about Russian movements of troops and hardware near Ukraine, we call on Russia to adopt a posture of restraint and provide transparent information about its military activities. Any new attempt to undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity would have serious consequences,” reads the joint statement, according to the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform.