German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann admitted on Tuesday that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project agreed upon between Germany and Russia amounted to Berlin’s contribution to the war in Ukraine. Speaking at the welcoming address of a G7 justice ministers meeting in Berlin, Mr Buschmann said: “Knowing what we do today, the decision to pursue Nord Stream 2 following the annexation of Crimea in 2014 was Germany’s contribution to the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.”
The statement goes against German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s position on the pipeline.
Mr Scholz had defended the pipeline last December as a “private-sector project”.
It comes as NATO foreign ministers are meeting in Romania to coordinate aid to keep the lights — and furnaces — on in Ukraine, where Russian strikes have damaged an estimated third of that country’s electrical infrastructure.
NATO estimates that Russian strikes have damaged one-third of Ukraine’s electrical infrastructure. It says the missiles appear to be particularly targeting vulnerable transmission networks, leaving Ukrainians dealing with darkness and cold.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has underscored that his country’s biggest needs now are electrical gear and more advanced air-defence systems than it has gotten from the US and other allies so far, to deal with the Russian missile strikes.
“In a nutshell, Patriots and (electricity) transformers is what Ukraine needs the most,” Kuleba declared Tuesday.
Heading into a one-on-one session with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the NATO gathering, Kuleba said that Ukraine at the session had received “a number of commitments, new commitments, from various NATO members with regard to providing Ukraine with more defensive weapons and energy equipment.”
But Kuleba declined to answer questions about whether that included promises of badly wanted Patriot missile batteries, from the US or any other ally.
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The military organisation does not possess any weapons, only its member countries do.
A senior US defence official who briefed Pentagon reporters on Tuesday, on condition of anonymity, said that the United States is open to providing Patriots. While Ukraine has asked for the system for months, the U.S. and its allies have been hesitant to provide it to avoid further provoking Russia.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday that his country’s offer to send Patriots to Poland remains on the table, despite Warsaw’s suggestion that they should go to Ukraine instead.