Finland, Sweden Give Approval To Nord Stream

January 2010 Vol. 237 No. 1

Finland and Sweden gave Nord Stream, the Gazprom-led consortium, permission to lay the pipeline through their respective economic zones on the Baltic seabed, on an approved route from Russia to Germany.

Denmark gave its permission in October. Gazprom had been seeking that permission for three years.

The three Nordic governments had procrastinated on the basis of ecological and security considerations. Ultimately, each government’s political relations with Russia weighed heavily in their decisions. Of these three countries, only Denmark seeks to be connected with the Nord Stream pipeline.

Countries on the Baltic Sea’s opposite rim–Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland–have objections on ecological, economic, and strategic grounds. Their leaders criticized the Scandinavian governments’ decision on those grounds.

Nord Stream–should it materialize–would allow Russia to interrupt gas supplies to those countries through the existing pipelines, while maintaining full supplies via Nord Stream to Germany and potentially other West European countries. Politically, the Scandinavian collective approval of Nord Stream is a significant success for Russia and rewards Moscow’s efforts to divide the European Union and frustrate formation of a common E.U. energy policy.