Nord Stream 2: Myths, Illusions and Realities

By Dr Alan Riley

Nord Stream 2 poses a serious threat to EU energy market liberalisation and gives Russia a clear path to sow division in the region, according to a paper published today by the Henry Jackson Society.


The report systematically dispels the main myths in support of NS2 and engages with the illusions underpinning German support for the project. This enables a logical confrontation with the facts and the broader geopolitical issues: not only does NS2 threaten supply security, but it also jeopardises EU inter-state trust and EU-US relations, threatening the stability of the Western Alliance, which in turn creates the perfect conditions for Moscow to leverage power in the region.


The report’s author sets out the key realities of the project:

  • Nord Stream 2 is damaging to direct supply security and reputational interests of Germany – the new pipeline will not mitigate supply gaps, and it will actively undermine German and EU supply diversity. Germany’s willingness to work with a hostile state in spite of objections from the EU and US, has generated significant loss of trust.


  • Nord Stream 2 undermines prospects for developing European Strategic Autonomy – divisions between Western and Central and Eastern (CE) European member states will widen and will result in a significant setback in efforts liberalise the EU’s energy market. The project will also render Ukrainian transit routes redundant paving the way for Russian energy dominance in CE Europe and supply insecurity.


  • UK security interests are interlinked with the European continent, hence there is a compelling case for British engagement in the project – NS2 is more than just a gas pipe-line, it is a geopolitical development which threatens the security of several NATO states, and substantially enhances Russian influence – through Gazprom – which scores of analysts point out is no ordinary commercial entity.


There has been no end of controversy surrounding Nord Stream 2, however the report indicates that the real threats posed by the project have yet to be fully engaged with; from a Russian perspective the success of NS2 is a direct commentary on the strength of the EU and the Western Alliance – perceived weakness could encourage Moscow to continue to attempt to destabilise NATO states – as it has done, with some success, via Turk Stream 2.


Notwithstanding the many negative consequences of NS2, the report’s author suggests that some positives can possibly be drawn from the project, particularly in terms of redoubling efforts to firm up relationships within NATO and the Western Alliance. He states that the project has served to reinforce, across CE Europe, the belief in the US as principal guarantor of security, entrenching the pivot to the West and potentially paving the way for future cooperation on disarming Russian energy power in CE Europe and Ukraine.


The concluding policy recommendations indicate that constructive steps can be taken to counter the threat from Moscow and NS2, namely developing proactive energy security policy, strengthening Western partnerships, and supporting the advancement of an open and liberal energy market — in all of which, the UK can and should play an important role.



About the author:

Dr Alan Riley specialises in EU and international commercial law. He is current a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, Washington DC, and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Energy Community, Vienna. He has written extensively on energy security and EU energy and competition law. Much of his recent work focuses on questions of the operation of legal rules in a geopolitical framework. For example, the role of legal rules in underpinning or challenging Nord Stream 2 or legal remedies to arrest the flood of tainted capital sourced from authoritarian states and the use of legal rules to obtain redress for Ukraine for the invasion and occupation of its territory. Dr Riley was formerly Professor of Law, City, University of London, holds a PhD from the Europa Institute, Edinburgh University and qualified as Solicitor.



You can read the report in full HERE


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