Minister defends return of Russian gas turbines and warns of ‘devastating’ threat to European security
Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is defending a controversial decision by the Canadian government to return natural gas turbines from the Nord Stream One gas pipeline to Germany that were caught in the sanctions imposed on Russia.
Wilkinson announced on Saturday that the turbines will return to Germany after the Canadian government authorized what it called a « time-limited and revocable » exemption to its current sanctions against Russia. The move came as Canada imposed new sanctions on Russian agents and entities in response to its invasion of Ukraine.
In prepared remarks ahead of a news conference in Regina on Monday, Wilkinson said the war and resulting geopolitical tensions have shown just how vulnerable Europe is on the energy front.
“The energy security implications for Europe in particular are potentially devastating,” Wilkinson said.
« It’s not just a matter of inconvenience, or even an issue of affordability and wallet. It’s a fundamental threat to their ability to provide the basics for their citizens, from heating for their homes to fuel. to transport food and goods, and the power to sustain their industries, jobs and economies. »
In a statement posted on Twitter on Saturday, Wilkinson said the decision to return the wind turbines was made after consultations with the German government and other European allies.
« Without a natural gas supply, the German economy will suffer very significant difficulties and Germans themselves may not be able to heat their homes as winter approaches, » he said. he stated in the release.
The turbines are in Montreal for repairs, but Siemens – the German company that made them – said last month that Canadian government sanctions against Russian energy company Gazprom prevented it from sending them back to Europe.
The Nord Stream One gas pipeline supplies natural gas to Germany from Russia. The Russian government says the pipeline is currently operating at only 40% capacity.
Wilkinson said Monday that Canada is working to find ways to supply Canadian liquid natural gas and other products such as hydrogen, potash and uranium to Europe.
He said Canada can balance increasing energy exports to Europe and meeting greenhouse gas emissions targets.
« We can help our European friends in the short term and we can achieve our ambitious and vital climate goals, » he said.
Mixed reaction to the decision
The United States government welcomed Canada’s decision to deliver the turbines to Germany.
« In the short term, the turbine will allow Germany and other European countries to replenish their gas reserves, increase their energy security and resilience, and counter Russia’s efforts to weaponize energy, » U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a news release Monday.
The United States supports Canada’s decision to return a turbine to Germany to counter Russia’s efforts to weaponize energy. We are grateful for the partnership with Canada and Germany in holding President Putin accountable for his unjustifiable war against Ukraine. https://t.co/qTkhb9uasX
But a Ukrainian-Canadian advocacy group has expressed opposition.
Alexandra Chyczij, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, said the return of the turbines amounts to a « decision to bow to Russian blackmail ».
« This decision will ensure that the coffers of the Russian state budget will continue to be filled with European money which will be used to finance Russia’s genocide against the Ukrainian people, » Chyczij said in a press release on Sunday.
In a separate media statement, also issued on Sunday, Ukraine’s foreign and energy ministries expressed « deep disappointment » with 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 reinforce Moscow’s feeling of impunity, » the statement said.
WATCH | Canada returns key turbine to Germany for Russian pipeline:
The Conservative Party also criticized the move, calling on the government to replace Russian energy in Europe with Canadian resources.
« Instead of circumventing the global sanctions package designed to punish Putin, the Liberal government should approve new liquefied natural gas pipelines and terminals so that Canadian natural gas can displace Russian energy supplies in Europe, » the officials said. Tory MPs Michael Chong, James Bexan and Pierre Paul-Hus said in a statement Sunday.