Germany halts approval of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia

Germany has halted the approval of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the country has ordered the withdrawal of a key document needed for certification of the pipeline from Russia.

It comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that he recognises the independence of two separatist-held regions in eastern Ukraine – Donetsk and Luhansk – and sent in troops.

UK ambassador to the UN: ‘Russia has brought us to the brink, we urge Russia to step back’ – Ukraine crisis latest

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On the frontline near Donetsk

Ukraine key developments:• Tanks seen on roads near city of Donetsk overnight• International condemnation at UN Security Council as Putin recognises independence of separatist regions• PM pledges ‘first barrage’ of sanctions on Russia• EU and US also ready to impose sanctions


The pipeline bringing natural gas from Russia to Germany has long been criticised by the US and some European countries who argue that it increases Europe’s reliance on Russian energy supplies.

Mr Scholz said his government had decided to “reassess” the certification of Nord Stream 2, which hasn’t begun operating yet, in light of the latest developments.

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He had previously been hesitant about committing the pipeline to any sanctions package, despite longstanding pressure from Ukrainian officials.

EU to decide on sanctions

Foreign ministers from EU countries are meeting today to decide what sanctions to impose, according to the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

The measures will be tough but incremental, EU ministers said.

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Russia v Ukraine: military compared

The package being considered includes banning Russian state bonds from being traded in the European market and kicking Donetsk and Luhansk out of a free trade deal between the EU and Ukraine, according to an EU Commission source.

Other options include sanctions on several hundred members of Russia’s state Duma who voted for the recognition of the separatist regions, as well as on companies and banks involved in the financing of separatist activities there.

A senior EU diplomat previously said there was “a whole escalation ladder, starting with Russian individuals and moving up to finance, trade, and eventually energy”, adding: “A lot is possible.”

“We’ve got to ensure that whatever happens, Russia will feel the pain,” said Irish EU affairs minister Thomas Byrne.

US set to impose sanctions

The US is set to announce sanctions today.

President Joe Biden already signed an executive order prohibiting “new investment, trade, and financing by US persons to, from, or in” the two breakaway regions.

The order will “also provide authority to impose sanctions on any person determined to operate in those areas of Ukraine”. And there will be further measures separate from sanctions that the US and its allies have been preparing if Russia invades Ukraine.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that today the UK is sanctioning five Russian banks and three very high-net-worth individuals, who will have their assets frozen and will be banned from travelling to the UK.

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Column of unmarked military vehicles near Donetsk

Read more:As warnings of war grow, fear is also being felt in neighbouring PolandOfficials in Russian-backed regions press-gang older men into their militiasHow big is Russia’s military – and how does it compare with Ukraine?

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said his country would discuss possible “severe actions”, including sanctions, with the international community, while Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “the moment that other countries put in place strong and severe sanctions on Russia, we will be in lockstep with them and we will be moving just as quickly.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he will consider severing diplomatic ties with Russia.

What’s Russia’s response?

The Kremlin said Russia is still open to diplomacy and further talks with the US.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed the sanctions as a predictable move.

“Our European, American, British colleagues will not stop and will not calm down until they have exhausted all their possibilities for the so-called ‘punishment of Russia’,” he said.

“They are already threatening us with all manner of sanctions or, as they say now, ‘the mother of all sanctions’.

“Well, we’re used to it. We know that sanctions will be imposed anyway, in any case. With or without reason.”