Philip Hammond downplays importance of Russian gas to UK
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Speaking on Monday, the British Prime Minister stressed the importance of defending the peace in Ukraine as Russians continue to gather near the border, sparking invasion fears. Despite UK and US opposition, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has supported the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which will supply Russian gas to Berlin through a gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea.
During a press conference on Monday, Mr Johnson stated he would stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with allies in the bloc against Russian aggression.
The Prime Minister said the bloc must “recognise that a choice” between using Russian gas supplied through the pipeline and defending Ukraine during his pre-written speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet.
“When we say that we support the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine that is not because we want to be adversarial to Russia, or that we want in some way strategically to encircle or undermine that great country,” he said.
“And never let it be forgotten, in this season of remembrance, that it was Russian blood that enabled us to defeat Nazism.
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“It is because we have a commitment to democracy and freedom that is shared now across the vast mass of the European continent.
“And when our Polish friends asked for our help to deal with a contrived crisis on their border with Belarus, we were quick to respond.
“And we hope that our friends may recognise that a choice is shortly coming between mainlining ever more Russian hydrocarbons in giant new pipelines, and sticking up for Ukraine and championing the cause of peace and stability, let me put it that way.”
French President Emmanuel Macron also told Vladimir Putin in a call, France would “defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
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The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, while nearly complete, faces strong opposition in the States and a majority of the EU.
However, Ms Merkel called President Putin this summer over the deal, the Kremlin revealed.
“The Russian president praised the German side’s steadfast loyalty regarding the completion of this purely commercial project that is designed to strengthen Germany’s energy security,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
The original pipeline, Nord Stream, was completed in 2011 and just like its predecessor, the second one will deliver gas over 1,200 km (745 miles) under the Baltic Sea, starting just outside St. Petersburg and ending on Germany’s northern coast.
There are concerns the pipeline could increase gas dependence on Russia and undermine Ukraine which will be cut out from current transit fees.
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