Denmark’s Nord Stream green light ‘weakens Europe’: Ukraine president

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky slammed on Thursday Denmark's decision to grant a Russian gas project a building permit, saying it "strengthens Russia and weakens Europe."

Denmark's Nord Stream green light 'weakens Europe': Ukraine president
Nord Stream 2 pipeline being laid in the Baltic Sea. Photo: Stine Jacobsen/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

On Wednesday, Copenhagen gave Russia's Nord Stream 2 project a permit to build a section of the natural gas pipeline on the Danish continental shelf in the Baltic Sea.

The 9.5-billion-euro pipeline led by Gazprom has raised fears that Moscow will be able to increase pressure on Ukraine as Europe will be less reliant on the ex-Soviet country for transiting supplies.

“We understand that this is not just a matter of energy security, it is a geopolitical issue,” Zelensky said during a joint news conference with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

“Therefore I will tell you frankly that this strengthens Russia and weakens Europe,” Zelensky added.

The 41-year-old president, who came to power in May, said, however, that Ukraine was “ready for such a decision.”

“We understood this could happen,” he said.

The Baltic energy link will double the capacity to ship gas between Russia and Germany, sparking concerns about Western Europe's increasing dependence on Russian gas.

Nord Stream 2's proponents — led by Germany, the EU's biggest economy — say the pipeline will provide reliable supplies at an acceptable price.

But US President Donald Trump has threatened to hit Nord Stream 2 and those tied to it with sanctions, saying it makes Germany “a hostage to Russia.”

Most of Russia's gas destined for Europe passes through Ukraine.

Ukraine wants to remain a major transit route for Russian gas while Moscow seeks to send more gas to Europe via pipelines bypassing Ukraine.

Ties between Ukraine and Russia were shredded after a bloody uprising ousted a Kremlin-backed regime in 2014.

Moscow went on to annex Crimea and support insurgents in eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has killed some 13,000 people.

READ ALSO: Denmark clears way for Russian gas pipeline

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Denmark decries airspace violations by Russian planes

Denmark's government on Friday decried two Russian aircraft violating Danish airspace and summoned   Moscow's ambassador over the incident.

Denmark decries airspace violations by Russian planes
Russian MiG fighter jets. NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / AFP

The defence ministry in one NATO’s founding members said fighter jets had been scrambled to counter the incursion on Friday,  Ritzau news agency reported.

“Completely unacceptable that Russian planes violate Danish airspace, even twice in one day,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said in a post to Twitter.

Kofod added that the repeat violation made it look like a “deliberate action”.

“We are still examining the details, but I have already taken the initiative to summon the Russian ambassador for a talk at the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs,” the foreign minister said.

The violations had occurred over the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, south of Sweden.

“It is very rare that we see this type of violation of Danish airspace, so two in the same day must be deemed to be serious,” Defence Minister Trine Bramsen told Ritzau.

According to the agency, Russia has repeatedly flown over Danish airspace and in August 2020, a Russian B52 bomber also flew over Bornholm.