Nord Stream 2 could be major leverage against Russia — but using it is complicated

Russia will lose tens of billions of dollars if a pipeline project to transport gas to Germany is abandoned — and that threat is something that Europe can use to pressure Moscow, according to a former German ambassador to the U.S.

“I think the pipeline represents a major item of leverage for us, if we handle it smartly,” said Wolfgang Ischinger, who is now chairman of the Munich Security Conference.

Nord Stream 2 is a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany that will carry 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe every year if approved by regulators. It is contentious because it bypasses countries like Ukraine and Poland, who vocally oppose it, and the project has been caught up in geopolitical debate.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and its European allies have been alarmed by a buildup of Russian troops at the border of Ukraine, with many experts afraid that Moscow will invade its neighbor.

Some European leaders have suggested that the pipeline should be added to a potential sanctions list against Russia.

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