Johnson warns EU to choose between Ukraine and Nord Stream 2

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Boris Johnson has warned that the EU faces “a choice” between “standing up for Ukraine” and approving Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, amid fears that Russia is preparing for a possible invasion of Eastern Europe.

Hanna Maliar, Kiev’s deputy defense minister, told the Financial Times over the weekend that Western intelligence indicated a “high probability of destabilization” of Ukraine by Russia as soon as last winter after Moscow gathered more than 90,000 troops at its border.

Construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will transport Russian gas directly across the Baltic Sea to Germany, was delayed by US sanctions and strongly opposed by Eastern European countries such as Poland, which believe it is designed to starve Ukraine on transit charges for the transport of Russian gas.

Ukrainian officials also fear that the alternative gas route to Western Europe could make it easier for Russia to invade the country, where it has supported proxy fighters in the eastern Donbass region since 2014, the same year it annexed Crimea from the country.

Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said in an interview with the Financial Times: “For us, Nord Stream 2 is a security issue. We believe that the use of migrants against Belarus, the situation around Nord Stream 2, the disinformation campaigns, the military build-up of Russia, are all part of a broader picture. Russia is involved in all these situations. “

Speaking in Guildhall, London, on Monday evening, Johnson said: “When we say we support Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity, it is not because we want to oppose Russia, or because we want to strategically encircle or undermine the great in any way. the country.

“It is because we have a commitment to democracy and freedom that is now shared across the European continent. And when our Polish friends asked for our help in dealing with a fabricated crisis at their border with Belarus, we were quick to respond.

“And we hope that our friends can realize that a choice will soon be made between driving more and more Russian hydrocarbons in giant new pipelines and standing up for Ukraine and fighting for peace and stability, let me put it this way.”

Liz Truss, Britain’s foreign secretary, has also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene. migrant crisis on the border between Belarus and Poland.

Britain has accused Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’s authoritarian leader, of orchestrating a crisis by channeling thousands of migrants from the Middle East to Belarus’s borders with the EU and encouraging them to enter the bloc illegally.

Truss wrote in The Sunday Telegraph, urging “friends across Europe” to stand together to oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. “It risks undermining European security by allowing Russia to tighten its grip on the nations that rely on its gas,” she wrote.

The comments from Johnson and Truss mark a tougher tone on the Nord Stream 2 project from the UK in the midst of a gas supply crisis that has threatened the economic recovery from the pandemic, forced many UK energy suppliers to close down and fed into fears of a growing “cost of living crisis”.

Eastern European lawmakers have blamed tight gas supplies this winter for Russia restricting exports to Western Europe to pressure Germany to speed up the start of the pipeline following the completion of construction in September.

The British government has previously offered some direct opposition to the pipeline and has claimed that Britain is not dependent on gas imports from Russia, although it has admitted that it is exposed to “volatile” global gas markets. The UK imports gas from the EU, which receives up to 40 percent of its supplies from Russia.

Speaks after The COP26 agreement was diluted In the closing minutes of the weekend, Johnson said: “I know how frustrating it was – when we were on the verge of agreeing to phase out coal – to see engagement weakened. But I say this: I’ve been looking at politics for a long time now and I know when a tipping point is reached.

– Language matters, but whether you are talking about decommissioning or phasing out, it is not far to the day when it will be as politically unacceptable, anywhere in the world, to open a new coal-fired power plant as it is now. get on a plane and light a cigar. “

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