Zelensky slams Canada over Russia-bound gas turbine

Exemptions from sanctions will only embolden Moscow, the Ukrainian president says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has argued that Canada’s move to return a turbine required for a pipeline transporting Russian gas to Germany will be seen as “weakness” by Moscow.

Zelensky said the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has summoned a Canadian envoy over the “absolutely unacceptable” decision to allow the return of a repaired turbine to Germany. The turbine is required for the functioning of Nord Stream, a Baltic Sea pipeline that delivers gas from Russia to Germany.

“The decision on the exemption from the sanctions will be viewed in Moscow only as a sign of weakness,” Zelensky argued in a video address published on Tuesday.

“If a terrorist country can claw out such an exemption from the sanctions, what exemptions will it want tomorrow or the day after tomorrow? It is a very dangerous matter.” 

“Now, there can be no doubt that Russia will try not just to limit as much as possible, but to completely shut down the supply of gas to Europe at the most acute moment. This is what we need to prepare for,” Zelensky said.

The turbine had been held up in Canada due to the sanctions imposed on Moscow in response to its military campaign in Ukraine. Russian state gas giant Gazprom said last month that it was forced to reduce the flow through the Nord Stream because the turbine had not been returned on time. The company then suspended the flow completely for 10 days starting Monday, citing planned maintenance.

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German Economy Minister Robert Habeck argued at the time that Gazprom’s decision to reduce the flow through the Nord Stream was politically motivated. At the same time, he also urged Canada to let the turbine be shipped to Germany.

“Strong sanctions mean it must hurt and harm Russia and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin more than it does our economy,” Habeck told Bloomberg last week. “Therefore, I ask for understanding that we have to take this turbine excuse away from Putin.”

On Monday, Ottawa greenlighted the return of the turbine. “Canada will grant a time-limited and revocable permit to Siemens Canada to allow the return of repaired Nord Stream 1 turbines to Germany,” Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said.

The US Department of State backed the move, saying that, “in the short term, the turbine will allow Germany and other European countries to replenish their gas reserves, increasing their energy security and resiliency and countering Russia’s efforts to weaponize energy.”

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