tl;dr Both regional groups of the Baltics and the V4 states oppose the Nord Stream 2 project, carrying the views that the project is political and not economic, and have also denounced the project as a threat to European cohesion and security.
A brief overview
The two regions in the broader eastern European region that I have been tasked to look at are the Baltics and the V4. The Baltic states refer to the northern European states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, while the V4 refers to the Visegrád Group, comprising the central European states of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
The NS2 project aims to double the capacity of the already-built Nord Stream 1, to 110 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year – more than a quarter of the European Union’s gas consumption. It will connect Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea, circumventing the traditional route through Ukraine.
This article does a good explainer of the whole situation with an appealing visual layout.
The V4 states have unanimously opposed and denounced the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) pipeline, stating that there is “no economic justification” for the project and that it is “political in nature”, even going as far as to call it a “threat to Europe“.
Reasons for this opposition that have been listed by V4 officials include:
- The capacity of existing gas pipelines is “not fully used”, with some statistics demonstrating “only 50 percent”.
- Deepening dependence on Russia
- Political connotations – namely that Russia would gain a tool for blackmailing Ukraine.
Reason 1 has been corroborated by statements from Moscow, which confirm that NS2 will not carry new gas to Europe, instead merely providing an alternative to the existing trans-Ukraine pipeline. FT states that “investment to modernise Ukraine’s Soviet-era network is much cheaper than building a new subsea route”.
One narrative that the V4 has been pushing as an argument against the NS2 project is that the construction of the gas pipeline despite a lack of approval from all EU members show a lack of solidarity within the bloc.
Similar views are held by the Baltic states, with Estonia’s Foreign Minister saying that NS2 is “first and foremost a political, not a business project“. This view is echoed by his Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts as well. Some concerns that the Baltics hold are the increasing energy dependency on Russia that NS2 would bring, and the ability of Russia to wield power over political issues if the project goes through.
This is in line with the argument from the V4 states, and both groups have actually come together to sign a letter objecting to the project in 2016.
One area that I am keen to look further into is the deeper “why” these states are against the project. While the reasons given by the states above are clear in understanding the opposition to the project on a superficial level, it does not explicitly state why these states themselves oppose the project, given that the current pipeline directly affects Ukraine the most.
Without further research into this topic, it would be hard for me to answer this right now, but I would hazard a guess that this is related to these states with relation to their geographical status between Russia and western Europe, as well as the fact that they currently receive gas from Russia through Ukraine, which becomes more insecure if Russia is able to transport gas to Germany through NS2 instead of through Ukraine and them as well.
One thought on “Eastern European Perspectives on Nord Stream 2”
Glad to see you work on Eastern Europe perspectives on Nord Stream 2. I’d probably sometimes look also into attitudes of Bulgaria & Romania towards NS2 (also signatories of letters objecting the project).
There are indeed different reasons for those countries opposition to NS2 – economic, related to foreign policy or security reasons etc. I’d be happy to help in search of sources if it is needed