Estonia Questions the Nord Stream

Why would Germany and Russia want to pay twice the cost to route the Nord Stream gas pipeline underwater rather than overland? Politics, of course. A few weeks after Estonia denied Russia the right to surveys in Estonian waters for the pipeline project, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet asked some tough questions in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat:

Paet has a number of questions concerning the pipeline project. “Why didn’t Nordstream want to investigate a real alternative – the overland option? Why do they want a pipeline which could affect the Baltic in an unpredictable manner?” There are already several pipelines running overland from Russia to Europe, and Paet points out that it would be possible to build a new one to run parallel with the existing pipelines. The prevailing view in Estonia is that the only reason why the pipeline has been planned to run underwater is to avoid cooperation with certain European countries, such as Poland, Lithuania, and the other Baltic states. Paet is also critical of the manner in which the pipeline was planned for many years. “Routing plans were made for so long among few states. The Baltic countries and Poland were kept outside the negotiations for a long time, even though they are coastal states on the Baltic Sea.” Russia’s announcement that it plans to use its naval forces to secure the construction of the pipeline is what really turned public opinion in Estonia against the pipeline. Paet notes that the Russian Navy can move freely in the area in any case, and asks: “Why did Russia have to make such an announcement? Why did the economic project have to be tied down militarily and politically?