Germany halts gas pipeline project as EU chief says Russian troops are already in Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday he was suspending the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project with Russia, as fears of a full-scale invasion grew amid reports and statements by officials that Russian troops were already on Ukrainian soil.

Scholz said he asked to halt the German regulator’s review process for the pipeline.

“It sounds technical, but it’s the necessary administrative step so that there can be no certification of the pipeline and without this certification Nord Stream 2 cannot start operating,” he said.

A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of the eastern regions of Ukraine, Scholz warned Russia that the decision to stop the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project was only a step “concrete” of Germany and that new sanctions could follow.

“There are also other sanctions that we can introduce if further action is taken, but for now it is about doing something very concrete,” he told reporters. The European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom were all preparing to announce sanctions against Moscow on Tuesday.

Germany’s announcement came as Russia set the stage for swift action to secure its grip on rebel Ukrainian regions on Tuesday with new legislation that would allow the deployment of troops there.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (right) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pose for a photo as they meet at the Munich Security Conference on February 19, 2022 (Sven Hoppe / POOL / AFP)

The agreements, published by the lower house of the Russian parliament, create a “legal basis” for the presence of the Russian army in the republics.

Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, has voted to approve Putin’s “friendship agreements” with the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR).

As part of the agreements, the two sides agreed to share military bases and jointly protect their borders.

The vote ended with standing applause from the deputies. Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, is due to vote on the deals later on Tuesday.

The legislation could be a pretext for a deeper advance into Ukrainian territory, as feared by the United States and its allies.

A man holds the remains of a mortar that exploded in front of a building in the town of Schastia, near the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk, on February 22, 2022 (Aris Messinis / AFP)

Shortly after Putin signed the initial decree on Monday night, convoys of armored vehicles were seen rolling through separatist-held territory. It was not immediately clear if they were Russian.

However, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Tuesday that “Russian troops have entered Donbass”, adding that “I wouldn’t say (it’s) a full-fledged invasion, but the Russian troops are on Ukrainian soil”.

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak also said in a radio interview on Tuesday that he could confirm that Russian forces had entered the territories, describing it as a violation of Ukraine’s borders and international law. .

Russian officials have yet to acknowledge the deployment of troops in the rebels’ east, but Vladislav Brig, a member of the separatist Donetsk local council, told reporters that Russian troops had already moved in, taking positions in the north and the west of the region.

Putin’s decision to recognize rebel regions as independent states follows a nearly eight-year-old separatist conflict that has killed more than 14,000 people and devastated the industrial heartland of eastern Donbass. Ukraine.

The latest developments and Putin’s decision were reprimanded by many countries around the world and were expected to lead to sanctions.

A family crosses from territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists to areas controlled by the Ukrainian government at Stanytsia Luhanska, the only crossing point open every day, in Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine on 22 February 2022 (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sought to project calm, telling the country in an overnight speech: “We are not afraid of anything or anyone. We don’t owe anyone anything. And we won’t give anything to anyone.

Zelensky said on Tuesday that he “received a request from the Foreign Ministry to consider the issue of the severance of relations between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.”

“I will now, immediately following this press conference, review and work on this issue,” he said.

The Kremlin responded to Zelensky’s comments, saying it remained open to diplomatic contact on Ukraine and that Kiev’s break with Moscow would worsen an already tense situation.

Soldiers from the Ukrainian military forces walk on the front line with Russian-backed separatists near Novohnativka, in the Donetsk region, on February 20, 2022 (Anatolii STEPANOV / AFP)

“The Russian side remains open at all levels to diplomatic contacts… It all depends on our adversaries,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that a decision by Kiev to sever official ties with Moscow would be “an extremely undesirable scenario that would make everything even more difficult.

Tensions continued to rise in eastern Ukraine, with fresh shelling reported along the tense line of contact between rebels and Ukrainian forces.

The Ukrainian army said two Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and 12 others injured by shelling in the past 24 hours. He dismissed rebel claims of shelling residential areas and insisted Ukrainian forces were not retaliating.

Do you like The Times of Israel?

If so, we have a request.

Every day, our journalists aim to keep you up to date with the most important developments that deserve your attention. Millions of people rely on ToI for fast, fair and free coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.

We care about Israel – and we know you do too. So today we have a question: show your appreciation for our work by join the Times of Israel communityan exclusive group for readers like you who appreciate and financially support our work.

Yes, I will give Yes, I will give Already a member? Log in to stop seeing this

You are a dedicated reader

That’s why we started The Times of Israel ten years ago – to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.

So now we have a request. Unlike other media, we don’t have a paywall in place. But since the journalism we do is expensive, we invite readers to whom The Times of Israel has become important to support our work by joining The Times of Israel community.

For just $6 a month, you can help support our quality journalism while benefiting from The Times of Israel WITHOUT ADVERTISINGas well as access Exclusive content only available to members of the Times of Israel community.

Thank you,
David Horovitz, founding editor of The Times of Israel

Join our community Join our community Already a member? Log in to stop seeing this

About Keith Tatum

Check Also

AGIP pipeline leaks large amounts of gas

September 20, 2022September 20, 2022100 Illustrative picture The Kolo-Otueke-Bayelsa Palm Road …