Ukraine urges Canada not to return Nord Stream pipeline component

Ukraine’s energy minister has urged the Canadian government not to send back a key component needed to ramp up natural gas flows on the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream pipeline, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO.

Russian gas flows to Europe have plummeted since June 16, when the state-owned Gazprom claimed Western sanctions were preventing the return of a Siemens gas turbine out for maintenance in Montreal and needed for operation.

Kyiv is asking Canada not to make an exception to its sanctions against Moscow for the gas turbine, on the grounds that Russia was free to route its gas through Ukraine.

“Gazprom continues to spread false narratives to justify its actions aimed solely at monetary gain and putting ever more political pressure” on the West, reads the June 23 letter from Ukraine’s German Galushchenko, addressed to Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. “There should be a unified stance and consistent actions, like the one demonstrated by Lithuania, which is enforcing sanctions measures for the transit of goods, despite Kremlin’s blackmail and explicit threats.”

The letter adds that “all necessary infrastructure is already in place for sufficient gas volumes to be transited to the EU … Yet, Gazprom is refusing to use the available capacity of Ukraine’s [gas transmission system], which it pays for.”

German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck made a public plea to the Canadian government on Thursday, urging the speedy return of the unit so Europe could receive more gas.

Russian gas flows to Europe through Nord Stream are down to 40 percent of the pipeline’s capacity, causing gas prices to skyrocket. Spot prices at the benchmark European hub were €184 per megawatt-hour on Thursday, up from about €85/MWh before the maintenance issue was announced last month.

“Strong sanctions means it must hurt and harm Russia and Putin more than it does our economy,” Habeck said. “Therefore, I ask for understanding that we have to take this turbine excuse away from Putin.”

Nord Stream is set to go offline for annual maintenance from July 11 to July 21. Habeck last week expressed worry that it may never come back online.