Grigory Pasko: Nord Stream, Putin’s Pet Project

Putin, you’re angry – that means you’re not right*



Grigory Pasko, journalist


During the time of a meeting with Finnish premier Matti Vanhanen on 12 November of the year 2007, Russian premier Vladimir Putin for the first time publicly allowed the possibility of the abandonment of construction of the Nord Stream pipeline.


In the newspaper Kommersant is described in detail how specifically Putin spoke of this.


In particular, it is noted that Putin clarified that the company Nord Stream has spend over $100 mln on environmental research. (True, he was silent about how many million euros this company had spent on the creation of a positive image about itself and its project – G.P.).

Further on in the newspaper are cited Putin’s words : «… And in the nearesttime all structures of Finland will receive exhaustive information in thisregard! — mister Putin spoke about this with some kind ofirritation.

It could be seen that this theme is already simply painful for him.  His favorite project, the benefit not onlyfor Russia, but for the West is oh-so obvious that there isn’t even anything topick at, and yet they still keep picking and picking…»

It is understandable that the pipeline along the bottom of the Baltic -this is one of Putin’s favorite children. It can be assumed that this – is part of his personal financialfuture.  What I find hard to agree with,though, is that this project is beneficial for Russia.  Just go to the little town of Babayevo ofVologda Oblast, through which three (!) trunk gas pipelines run, and you willbe convinced of this.  Despite the factthat there is a lot of gas in Russia, it often never gets to the Russians.  Nearly all of it goes for export.


Finnish premier Matti Vanhanen said as much about Nord Stream:  “Finland needs that natural gas that will beshipped through this pipeline.”  Onewould think that Russia doesn’t need this gas.


Speaking about the problems that the doubtful project has run upagainst, Putin could not conceal his irritation and dissatisfaction:  “What haven’t we discussed already inconnection with ecology and this project! — he suddenly exclaimed.– Cadmium… andnavigation… and birds… and cables along the bottom… and munitions fromthe second world war… Europe must decide: do they need this pipeline or not! If it’s not needed, we will abandon it and will build liquefactionplants and send [the gas] to other markets!” And later: “I want for it to beunderstandable:  we will not force NordStream through!  We will build liquefaction plants.  We will sell, includingto you!  Only it will be more expensivefor you, here’s what the matter is!”

In a word, everything the same as always – a mixing of hysterics withblackmail.  Plus candid or underhandedbribery:  in order for Finland to approvethe nature-study investigations for Nord Stream, Russia has postponed the latestrise in export duties for unprocessed timber by 9-12 months, about which theRussian premier announced almost triumphantly  Besides the “forestry” incentives, Moscowalso went for extending the lease by Finland of the Russian part of the Saimaacanal.

It must beunderstood that the declarations of Russian leaders are rarely just thosedeclarations that will definitely be brought to life.  Thus, it seems to me, is taking place also inthe situation with the gas pipeline along the bottom of the Baltic Sea.  Despite Putin’s words about how he will not”force through” this project, it is none other than Putin who has forcedthrough and will force through this project going forward.  Because into this project have already beenput hundreds of millions of euros. Because for the forcing through of this project have already been broughtin such forces as Schroeder, Warnig, and many others.  To abandon the doubtful project, Putin &Co., I think, will have neither enough strength, or enough spirit.

Only if theprotesting countries will stand on their principles to the end.

But, as canbe seen from the meeting of Putin with his Finnish colleague, Russian lobbyistsin a stacked deck of cards have their trump cards.


*inactuality, in the original this phrase sounds like «Jupiter, you’re angry -that means you’re not right».  (Addressof Prometheus to Zeus (Jupiter):  “You’rereaching for a lightning bolt instead of an answer, – that means you’re notright”).  But inasmuch as Putin – is notJupiter, moreover, far from Jupiter, the phrase had to be changed.