Tuesday/ will Putin, or won’t he?

Will Putin invade Ukraine?
President Biden is vowing to stop the start-up of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if he does, even though it’s unclear how much power Biden has to do this.

From the Washington Post:
What is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and why does it matter to Russia?
The project is a natural gas line from Russian fields to the German coast, spanning 764 miles under the Baltic Sea. The $11 billion line will double the capacity of the original 2011 Nord Stream, which runs parallel to the new project. The line will supply gas to Germany — a nation heavily dependent on gas and oil imports — at a relatively low cost as the continent’s production capacity decreases.

The new pipeline is entirely owned by Russian energy company Gazprom, which is majority government-owned. The company also owns 51 percent of the original Nord Stream pipeline. A group of European energy companies, including Shell and Wintershall, paid half the construction costs.

Construction was completed in September, and the pipeline has been filled with gas since late December. Before it becomes operational, though, it needs regulatory approval from Germany and a review by European Union authorities. The head of the German regulatory body said in December that a decision would not come until the second half of 2022 at the earliest.

Absorber columns at the Gazprom PJSC Slavyanskaya compressor station, the starting point of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, in Ust-Luga, Russia, on Jan. 28. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg News)
From the Washington Post: Ukraine and Poland vehemently oppose the pipeline. Ukraine has long been an energy middleman nation, with Russian companies feeding much of Europe’s gas supply through Ukrainian soil and paying the country transit fees in the process. Critics think Russia, in bypassing Ukraine, aims to weaken and isolate the nation.

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