Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was “a dangerous geopolitical weapon”.
The comments came as the two leaders met in Kiev a few days after the German Chancellor met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Kiev fiercely opposes the pipeline, which is set to double Russian natural gas shipments to Germany. It argues that the pipeline will increase Europe’s energy dependence on Russia and Moscow’s geopolitical clout.
“We view this project exclusively through the prism of security and consider it a dangerous geopolitical weapon of the Kremlin,” Zelensky said during a joint press conference with Merkel.
Merkel said she and other international allies such as the US understand that “gas must not be used as a geopolitical weapon.
“It will come down to if there is an extension to the transit contract via Ukraine — the sooner the better,” she said, referring to the expiry of Moscow’s agreement with Kiev in 2024.
Merkel reassured Zelensky, saying that the Germany-US agreement specified “sanctions” if gas was “used as a weapon”.
These commitments are “binding on future German governments”, she noted.
“We feel a special responsibility” and “understand the big concerns that President Zelensky expressed,” she said. “We take them very seriously.”
On the other hand, the Ukrainian leader said that he and Merkel had only discussed “very general things”.
In addition to the pipeline issue, the two leaders also discussed Ukraine’s conflict with pro-Russian separatists in its east.
Merkel has helped mediate the conflict, which broke out in 2014.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is expected to be finished very soon.