Nord Stream 2 ‘past point of no return’: Russia’s Gazprom

The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, from Russia to Germany, is laid in the Baltic Sea. (AP Photo)
Updated 28 June 2019

Nord Stream 2 ‘past point of no return’: Russia’s Gazprom

  • The €11-billion energy link between Russia and Germany is to run under the Baltic Sea doubling Russian gas shipments to the EU’s biggest economy
  • The final major hurdle to clear in the construction of Nord Stream 2 is obtaining an agreement from Denmark that the pipeline can cross its exclusive economic zone

SAINT PETERSBURG: The controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline set to supply Europe with Russian gas via the Baltic is “past the point of no return” despite obstacles including the threat of US sanctions, the head of Gazprom said Friday.
“We are working from the idea that Nord Stream 2 will be realized strictly in accordance with the planned timetable,” Alexei Miller said at an annual shareholders meeting in Saint Petersburg.
This means the pipeline would be completed by the end of this year and in service from the start of 2020.
The €11-billion ($12-billion) energy link between Russia and Germany is to run under the Baltic Sea doubling Russian gas shipments to the EU’s biggest economy.
The final major hurdle to clear in the construction of Nord Stream 2 is obtaining an agreement from Denmark that the pipeline can cross its exclusive economic zone, situated outside its territorial waters.
But Miller said, “Work is going ahead. The project has been past the point of no return for some time already, there are no legal means whatsoever to stop the work.”
The building of the pipeline has sparked concerns about Western Europe’s increasing dependence on Russian gas.
It has also raised fears that Moscow will be able to increase pressure on Ukraine as Europe will be less reliant on the country for transiting supplies.
Delaying the opening of the pipeline would create serious difficulties.
Today the vast majority of Russian gas to Europe transits via Ukraine.
However the current transit deal between Kiev and Moscow expires at the end of 2019 and the estranged neighbors have not been able to come to a fresh agreement.
US President Donald Trump has meanwhile threatened to hit Nord Stream 2 and those tied to it with sanctions.


UK to purge Huawei from 5G by 2027, angering China and pleasing Trump

Updated 10 min 19 sec ago

UK to purge Huawei from 5G by 2027, angering China and pleasing Trump

  • UK to purge Huawei from 5G by 2027
  • No new 5G components to be bought from end of 2020

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Huawei equipment to be purged completely from Britain’s 5G network by 2027, risking the ire of China by signalling that the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker is no longer welcome in the West.
The seven-year lag will please British telecoms operators such as BT, Vodafone and Three, which had feared they would be forced to spend billions of pounds to rip out Huawei equipment much faster. But it will delay the roll out of 5G.
The United States had long pushed Johnson to reverse a decision he made in January to grant Huawei a limited role in 5G. London has also been dismayed by a crackdown in Hong Kong and the perception China did not tell the whole truth over the coronavirus.
Britain’s National Security Council (NSC), chaired by Johnson, decided on Tuesday to ban the purchase 5G components from the end of this year and to order the removal of all existing Huawei gear from the 5G network by 2027.
The cyber arm of Britain’s GCHQ eavesdropping agency, the National Cyber Security Center, told ministers it could no longer guarantee the stable supply of Huawei gear after the United States imposed new sanctions on chip technology.
Telecoms companies will also be told to stop using Huawei in fixed-line fiber broadband within the next two years.
“This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the UK telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run,” Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden told parliament.
“By the time of the next election, we will have implemented in law, an irreversible path for the complete removal of Huawei equipment from our 5G networks.”
In what some have compared to the Cold War antagonism with the Soviet Union, the United States is worried that 5G dominance is a milestone toward Chinese technological supremacy that could define the geopolitics of the 21st century.
With faster data and increased capacity, 5G will become the nervous system of the future economy — carrying data on everything from global financial flows to critical infrastructure such as energy, defense and transport.
After Australia first recognized the destructive power of 5G if hijacked by a hostile state, the West has become steadily more worried about Huawei.
White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien is meeting representatives of France, the UK, Germany and Italy in Paris this week to discuss security, including 5G.
The West is trying to create a group of rivals to Huawei to build 5G networks. Other large-scale telecoms equipment suppliers are Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia .

End of ‘Golden Era’?
Hanging up on Huawei, founded by a former People’s Liberation Army engineer, marks the end of what former Prime Minister David Cameron cast as a “golden era” in ties, promoting Britain as Europe’s top destination for Chinese capital. Cameron toasted the relationship over a beer with President Xi Jinping in an English pub, which was later bought by a Chinese firm.
Trump, though, has repeatedly asked London to ban Huawei which Washington calls an agent of the Chinese Communist state — an argument that has support in Johnson’s Conservative Party.
Huawei denies it spies for China and has said the United States wants to frustrate its growth because no US company could offer the same range of technology at a competitive price.
China says banning one of its flagship global technology companies would have far-reaching ramifications.
In January, Johnson defied Trump by allowing what he called high-risk companies’ involvement in 5G, capped at 35%.