Nord Stream: Not Just a Pipeline. An Analysis of the Political Debates in the Baltic Sea Region Regarding the Planned Gas Pipeline from Russia to Germany

FNI Report 15/2008. Lysaker, FNI, 2008, 77 p.

This report is an analysis of the planned gas pipeline from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea known as Nord Stream. Although not yet realised, the project has, since its birth, been the subject of harsh criticism and opposition by a significant number of states that consider themselves affected by the pipeline. Whereas the Baltic States and Poland have interpreted the pipeline as a politically motivated strategy that will increase Russia’s leverage on them and threaten their energy security, the debate in Sweden was at first mostly concerned with the prospect of increased Russian military presence in the Swedish Exclusive Economic Zone. The potential environmental impact of the pipeline has been, and continues to be, an overarching concern shared by all the littoral states of the Baltic Sea. Proponents of Nord Stream, most notably Germany, Russia and the Nord Stream consortium, have largely dismissed the concerns as unwarranted and argue that the pipeline is a common European project that all EU-members should embrace, as it will provide much-needed gas to an increasingly energythirsty union. This report is an extensive study of the divergent attitudes and debates that have surged in the region regarding Nord Stream, and the aim is to provide plausible explanations as to why the interpretations of the project have been so different in the various states. The report is based on a variety of sources, including several first-hand interviews with researchers and government officials in the Baltic Sea region.