German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has warned that severing economic ties with Russia will be “wrong and dangerous” for Europe, amid disputes over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project that is designed to take Russia's gas via the Baltic Sea to Germany.
"Fundamentally, I'm of the opinion that it would put us in Europe in a difficult position if economic relations with Russia were no longer possible," Maas said after a meeting with his Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau in the Polish capital of Warsaw on Thursday.
"It is not only wrong but also dangerous for our security interests in Europe," Maas added.
In a German-language tweet later in the day, Maas also thanked Rau for the bilateral meeting during which the two discussed the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline at length, saying, "We need this unity for Europe."
Danke für den herzlichen Empfang heute in Warschau, @RauZbigniew! Freue mich, dass du meine Einladung zum Treffen des Weimarer Dreiecks 🇫🇷 🇵🇱 🇩🇪 angenommen hast. Wir brauchen diese Geschlossenheit für Europa🇪🇺! pic.twitter.com/tIM5hPowzx— Heiko Maas 🇪🇺 (@HeikoMaas) July 1, 2021
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the completion of the first line of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany despite Western attempts to prevent the project.
Nord Stream 2, which would take gas from the Russian Arctic to Germany under the Baltic Sea, is set to double Russian natural gas shipments to Europe's largest economy
The project has been beset by sanctions from the US and EU states.
Poland has said the pipeline is a political as well as an economic project designed to increase Russian influence in Europe. Other Central European countries are also concerned about loss of revenue from gas transit fees.
Russia restarted construction of the politically-delicate pipeline to Germany in December after the construction work on the $11.6 billion pipeline, which will bypass Poland and Ukraine, was put on a halt for a year over Washington’s threat of sanctions.
Washington has opposed the project saying it would increase Russia’s economic and political leverage over Europe. Moscow and Germany, however, say Nord Stream 2 is a commercial project. Berlin says it needs gas as it shuts coal and nuclear plants over environmental and safety concerns.
Back in May, Washington eventually waived additional sanctions against Gazprom — the Russian-controlled builder of the pipeline — in a tacit admission that it failed to prevent the project.
Russia has two projects to send natural gas to Europe, namely the Nord Steam 2 and the Turk Stream 2 pipeline, which will supply Western Europe with energy.
The Turk Stream 2 will carry gas through Bulgaria.
The US has said it remains opposed to both projects and has threatened them with sanctions.