German Mayors: Berlin to Rethink Russia Policy, Open Nord Stream 2

Seven mayors from the German island of Ruegen, Germany’s largest island and a popular tourist destination, urged the regional and the federal governments in a letter issued on Wednesday to allow gas imports via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline – given the current technical difficulties with Nord Stream 1.

In the letter addressed to the federal economy minister Robert Habeck, and the prime minister of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Manuela Schwesig, they also demanded a change in energy policy and approaching Russia, stressing that Berlin’s policy of abandoning imports of Russian natural gas is likely to create hardship and entice unrest.

The mayors urged the government to also consider the damage its policy could do to the German population and the economy.

Due to maintenance requirements, Nord Stream 1 is currently operating at 20% capacity since, as its operator Gazprom explains, several turbines at the Portovaya compressor station need servicing to maintain certification.

Finished in late 2021, the Nord Stream 2 was supposed to double the volume of Russian gas exports, but Berlin suspended indefinitely its operating permit on February 22, two days before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Berlin has steadfastly rejected the possibility of opening the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which does not use Siemens turbines and can be maintained regardless of the sanctions, with Economy Minister Habeck saying the pipeline cannot operate without certification.

Pointing out that the federal government is wrong to disconnect Germany from Russian energy sources, the seven mayors warned that it would mean an explosion in the cost of living, which would lead to social instability and unrest.

They rejected the federal government’s calls to save energy noting they don’t want to have to accept any further restrictions, calling the proposed expansion of the number of wind turbines near residential areas a health hazard.

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