01-Dec-17 – Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2

“QUESTION: I’m Marek Walkuski, Polish Public Radio.

MS NAUERT: Okay. Nice to meet you. Welcome to the State Department.

QUESTION: Deputy Assistant Secretary McCarrick told a group of European journalists that, I quote, “We don’t see the possibility that Nord Stream 2 is going to be built. That is not something that we are going to assume is going to happen.” Could you explain what is the statement based on? And I’m wondering if the topic has been discussed during the meeting between Secretary Tillerson and German foreign minister and what’s the conclusion of their discussion if, in fact, it was one of the topics.

MS NAUERT: Yeah. I can tell you that that conversation did not come up. The Secretary and the foreign minister had a very positive meeting in which they talked about the DPRK, North Korea. They talked about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the importance of Saudi Arabia opening additional ports and ways that we can get humanitarian aid into Yemen. They talked about a few other matters as well. Nord Stream 2 was not one of the topics that came up in my presence. Now, they may have had a separate sideline conversation that I did not witness, so that may have come up.

In terms of where exactly we are on Nord Stream 2 – pardon me one second – another topic related to that is the multi-line Turkish Stream, as I understand it. So our position on this would be that Europe is certainly working to try to diversify where it gets its energy. I’ve spoken with some of your colleagues before, people from that part of the world as well, and recognizing that there should be and could be more sources of energy. We have seen in the very cold winter months where Vladimir Putin – which is where a lot of your energy comes from in particular in Poland – where he will turn down, turn off those energy supplies, causing costs to go up and causing people to lose heat on occasion. So we know that Europe is working to diversify its energy sector overall. It’s also assessing projects that would undermine some of these efforts.

We agree with many of our European partners that Nord Stream 2 and a multi-line Turkish Stream would reinforce Russian dominance in Europe’s gas markets. It would reduce opportunities for diversification of energy sources. It would pose security risks in an already tense Baltic Sea region and it would advance Russia’s goal of undermining Ukraine – that’s a particular concern of ours – by ending Ukraine’s role as a transit country for Russian gas exports to get to Europe. Construction of Nord Stream 2 would concentrate about 75 percent of Russian gas imports to the EU through a single route, creating a potential checkpoint that would significantly increase Europe’s vulnerability to a supply disruption. So we believe that these two projects would enable Gazprom to cut off transit via Ukraine and still meet demand in Western Europe, which would economically undermine Ukraine by depriving it of about $2 billion in annual transit revenue. Okay?

QUESTION: But is this statement correct, that you don’t believe that the project would be built, that Nord Stream 2 would be built? And Secretary Tillerson called recently the Nord Stream 2 unwise. What are you doing to stop this unwise project?

MS NAUERT: So, sir, I don’t have the Secretary’s comments in front of me, so I hesitate to comment on having something that I —

QUESTION: Two days ago at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

MS NAUERT: I understand. I understand. I just don’t have the exact quote in front of me.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS NAUERT: So I’m not – I’m just not going to comment on that. And the other person who made a remark, I don’t – I’m afraid I don’t have that with me either, so – okay?

QUESTION: Yes.

QUESTION: Can we move on? Heather, can we move on please?

MS NAUERT: Thanks. Yeah, North Korea.”

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