The Ukrainian government is calling on Canada to reconsider its decision to allow the delivery of turbines from a natural gas pipeline between Russia and Europe to Germany, saying it sets a “dangerous precedent” when it comes to sanctions against the Russian regime.
Canada’s Natural Services Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced on social media Saturday that turbines from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which supplies natural gas from Russia to Germany, which had been shipped to Montreal for scheduled repairs, would be allowed to be returned. .
In June, Siemens Energy said that Canadian sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine meant the company could not return the turbines.
In his recent announcement, Wilkinson said turbine maker Siemens Canada would be granted a “limited-time, revocable permit” to return the equipment, essentially giving it an exemption.
He said the delivery was necessary to support “Europe’s ability to access reliable and affordable energy” as it tries to wean itself off Russian oil and gas. The government says it plans to return six turbines.
In a statement on Sunday, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry and Energy Ministry expressed “deep disappointment” at Canada’s decision.
“This dangerous precedent violates international solidarity, goes against the principle of the rule of law and will have only one consequence: it will strengthen Moscow’s sense of impunity,” it read.
In the run-up to Canada’s decision, German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck had expressed concern that Russia could cut off natural gas deliveries to Europe after planned maintenance. The warning followed Russia’s previous reduction of the flow of natural gas to Germany, along with Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
While Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant, has blamed repairs in Canada for the reduction of natural gas from the pipeline to Germany, German leaders have questioned the explanation for the technical problems, characterizing it instead as as a political movement.
The Ukrainian government expressed similar concerns in its statement, saying Russia’s threats amounted to “blackmail that has no technical justification.”
“Russia can continue to supply gas to Germany in its entirety without this turbine,” he said.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, warned last month that it was in crisis over Russia’s decision to cut the amount of gas flowing through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline by 60 percent.
Alexandra Chyczij, president of the Canadian-Ukrainian Congress, expressed disappointment with Canada’s decision, saying Ottawa is giving in to Russian threats to cut off gas supplies by complying with Germany’s request.
“Canada will not only contravene its policy of isolating Russia, it will set a dangerous precedent that will lead to the weakening of the sanctions regime imposed on Russia,” Chyczij said in a statement.
“This decision will ensure that the coffers of the Russian state budget continue to be filled with European money that will be used to finance Russia’s genocide against the Ukrainian people.”
Chyczij said Canada was put in the position of deciding whether to comply with an ally’s request or “stand firm on the sanctions imposed on Gazprom and Nordstream 1.”
Three Conservative MPs also issued a statement on Sunday saying allowing the equipment to be returned undermines sanctions Canada has imposed on Russia at a time when it should be stepping up as an alternative gas supplier to Europe.
“Allowing the return of the gas turbine sets a dangerous precedent of bowing to Putin’s blackmail of Europe, and will have a negative impact on Canada’s position on the world stage,” read a joint Tory statement Michael Chong, James Bezan and Pierre Paul Huss.
In light of criticism of Canada’s decision, Wilkinson’s office pointed to the minister’s earlier statement. He said not only was Germany’s economy vulnerable, but “Germans themselves will be at risk of not being able to heat their homes as winter approaches.”
The statement also noted that Canada has imposed sanctions against more than 1,600 people since Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014.
On the same day that Wilkinson announced that the turbines would be returned, Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly announced that Canada planned to apply a new set of sanctions targeting Russia’s pipeline and pipeline transportation and manufacturing sectors.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 10, 2022.
— With files from The Associated Press