Von der Leyen warns Russia of gas pipeline sanctions over Ukraine

European Commission president says Nord Stream 2 ‘cannot be excluded’ from possible measures

Last modified on Fri 4 Feb 2022 04.43 EST

Nord Stream 2, the controversial Russian gas pipeline to Germany, will be part of the package of sanctions facing the Kremlin if Ukraine is invaded, Ursula von der Leyen has said.

In comments that appear to go further than any commitments made by Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, the European Commission president sought to clear up any doubt about the pipeline’s future.

“Nord Stream 2 cannot be excluded from the sanctions list, that is very clear”, Von der Leyen said in an interview with the Handelsblatt and Les Echos newspapers.

The commission president said the future of the pipeline, which is yet to receive regulatory approval in Berlin or Brussels, would depend “on Russia’s behaviour”.

The latest estimate is that Russia has mobilised 145,000 troops on its border with Ukraine, with the US claiming on Thursday it had uncovered plans for a Russian “propaganda video” it believed could have been used to justify an invasion.

The video, the US said, would depict a staged false explosion with dead bodies and actors as mourners following an “attack” by Ukraine or its Nato allies.

Von der Leyen’s commitment offers clarity on an issue on which Scholz has remained vague, stating only that “all options are on the table”.

The chancellor has come under heavy criticism domestically for the stance. In recent days Ukraine’s government had called for greater transparency on the potential range of EU sanctions facing the Kremlin.

“Make it available for the Russians, for everyone, so that the Russians can see what awaits for them,” Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said.

Von der Leyen responded to that call by shedding light on the package, saying it “ranges from closing access to foreign capital to export controls on critical goods, hi-tech components that Russia cannot simply replace, for example in the field of artificial intelligence and weaponry, quantum computers, lasers and space.”

She described the sanctions list as “robust and comprehensive”, adding: “People close to [Russian president Vladimir] Putin and oligarchs could of course be hit sensitively.”

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