As of July 11th, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline is undergoing scheduled maintenance. But one of the parts, a gas turbine, had to be sent to Canada for repairs. The Ukrainian energy ministry responded by urging Canada not to hand over the repaired turbine, since this would undermine sanctions against Russia: “The sanctions forbid the transfer of any equipment related to gas.”
If, God forbid, this decision [to return the turbine] is approved, we will undoubtedly appeal to our European colleagues that their approach must be reassessed. Because if countries do not follow decisions they have agreed about sanctions, how can we talk about solidarity?
Withholding the turbine, however, would have come at the expense of citizens in Germany, who are already preparing for energy shortages next winter. Canada’s minister of natural resources issued a permit to return the turbine to support “Europe’s ability to access reliable and affordable energy as they continue to transition away from Russian oil and gas,” and continued to explain that
absent a necessary supply of natural gas, the German economy will suffer very significant hardship and Germans themselves will be at risk of being unable to heat their homes as winter approaches.
The decision to return the gas turbine to Russia has led to disappointment among Ukrainian officials. “Our community is deeply disappointed by the Canadian government’s decision to bow to Russian blackmail,” said Alexandra Chyczij, national president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. The group considers this a “dangerous precedent that will lead to the weakening of the sanctions regime imposed on Russia.”
Regardless, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed his relief over the delivery, even if he considered the maintenance to be a false pretense. “We welcome the decision of our Canadian friends and allies,” said Scholz. The German Minister of Economy Robert Habeck didn’t trust the official version of necessary repairs to the pipeline either, but said that the return of the turbine should “take away the pretense,” hoping that this “might solve something.”
Germany’s energy situation is highly volatile. With its dependence on Russian gas, many German politicians have expressed concerns that the scheduled maintenance of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline might be used to pressure Western nations to ease up on their sanctions. “Anything is possible, anything could happen,” said Habeck. “It could be that more gas will be flowing again, possibly even more than before. But it could also be that nothing will be coming through anymore.”