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Canada to return Russian gas turbine to Germany amid Europe energy crisis

Pipes at the landfall facilities of the ‘Nord Stream 1” gas pipeline are pictured in Lubmin, Germany, March 8, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Canada will return a repaired Russian turbine to Germany necessary for maintenance on the key Russia-Europe natural gas pipeline, despite objections from Ukraine.

In a statement on Saturday, Canada’s minister of natural resources, Jonathan Wilkinson, said the government will “grant a time-limited and revocable permit for Siemens Canada to allow the return of repaired Nord Stream 1 turbines to Germany.”

The move would support “Europe’s ability to access reliable and affordable energy as they continue to transition away from Russian oil and gas,” he added.

Wilkinson said the permit was issued after discussions with “our European friends and allies” as well as the International Energy Agency.

Last month, Russia’s Gazprom cut capacity along the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to just 40% of usual levels, citing the delayed return of equipment being serviced by Germany's Siemens Energy in Canada. 

Moscow has announced that it would increase gas supplies to Europe if the turbine was returned.

The reduction in gas flows since mid-June due to the absence of the gas turbine comes as Germany and the rest of Europe try to reduce their dependence on Russian energy imports.

Germany, which has Europe’s biggest economy, gets about 35% of its gas to power industry and generate electricity from Russia.

“Absent a necessary supply of natural gas, the German economy will suffer very significant hardship and Germans themselves will be at risk of being unable to heat their homes as winter approaches,” Wilkinson added in the statement.

Meanwhile, Alexandra Chyczij, national president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, said on Saturday “our community is deeply disappointed by the Canadian government’s decision to bow to Russian blackmail.”

Ukraine is currently at odds with Germany over the delayed return of the turbine and has opposed Canada handing over the turbine as Kiev believes that returning the turbine back, would flout sanctions on Russia.

Melanie Joly, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, on Saturday said “Canada is unwavering in its support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity... Canada will not relent in pressuring the Russian regime.”

She insisted on her government’s support of Ukraine and announced Canada would expand sanctions against Russia’s energy sector to include industrial manufacturing.

Today, we announced that Canada intends to impose further sanctions on Russia’s oil, gas, chemical and manufacturing sectors.

We are unwavering in our support for Ukraine. We will continue to target Russia’s coffers. We will not relent in pressuring the Russian regime.

— Mélanie Joly (@melaniejoly) July 9, 2022

Last month, Canada set a precedent by seizing the assets of sanctioned Russian individuals and companies and using them to compensate victims of the Ukraine conflict.

Ukraine has accused Moscow of using natural gas supplies as a weapon to put pressure on Kiev’s European allies to reduce their support for Ukraine.

Ukraine has been the subject of the Russian military operation since February 24, with Moscow saying that the operation is aimed at “demilitarizing” the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas.

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