Tribune. On September 6, the last tube of Nord Stream 2 was submerged in the waters of the Baltic Sea. This gas pipeline crosses the maritime areas of Finland, Sweden and Denmark over 1,200 km, between the Russian coast and Germany. Its two pipes will allow, from the autumn, to flow an additional 55 billion cubic meters of Russian gas per year (ie half of German consumption) to Western Europe.

Rarely a “Commercial project”, as its promoters continue to call it, will have been also politicized. Became the stake of a pitched battle between Germany and a “Slingshot of the losers” supported by the United States – anxious to avoid the marginalization of Ukraine as a transit corridor for Russian gas -, Nord Stream 2 has been a formidable test for the European Union and its ability to speak of a single voice. Qualified in 2016 by Joe Biden of “Bad deal for Europe”, scapegoat of the US Congress, the “Putin’s pipeline” has driven a wedge between NATO allies.

Read the op-ed: “Nord Stream 2, a project as large as the number of controversies it generates”

The compromise concluded by the United States and Germany on July 21 is certainly part of the new president’s promise to reconnect with Europe and to rebuild transatlantic relations degraded by his predecessor. Chinese pressure and the urgent need to bring together the political forces of the Western camp, shaken by the management of the Afghan crisis, may also be in sight. By lifting the restrictions that had hung over the project since 2019 and allowing its completion, Biden also appears to have realized the counterproductive impact of US extraterritorial sanctions and their stimulating effect on European thinking on resilience. However, the Nord Stream 2 affair will leave deep resentment on both sides, at a time when the EU and NATO are each considering their strategic positioning.

A new Molotov-Ribbentrop pact

The words of Radek Sikorski, former Polish defense minister, comparing Nord Stream to the German-Soviet pact of 1939, reveal the frustration of the central and eastern European states most exposed to the Russian threat and to possible disruptions in energy supply. Complaints received by the European Commission and the ” treason “ Poland, which has openly called on the United States to extend its sanctions against Russia to Nord Stream 2, shed a harsh light on the differences between the 27 on the latter and, by the very fact, Ukraine in the post-2014 context. They restored a dividing line between old and new Europeans.

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