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German ambassador: Gas transit in no way protects Ukraine from Russia

Ernst Reichel. Photo: news.online.ua

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany to Ukraine Ernst Reichel, speaking at a press conference in Kiev, asked for clarifications from Ukrainian politicians, concerning the thesis that "the gas transmission system of Ukraine and transit through it are protecting Ukraine from the Russian invasion."

"I hear such an argument that when Russia does not depend on transit through Ukraine, Russia will be able to attack without any obstacle. The first thing you can say is that you already felt that the continuation of the gas transit did not prevent from the occupation of the Crimea and the war in the East. Therefore, where does such an argument come from?" the ambassador was surprised.

The diplomat agrees that there is a threat of further "Russian invasion." But he does not understand how the gas transmission system of Ukraine can keep Russia from this attack.

"The pipeline cannot become a physical obstacle to Russia's attack on Ukraine. This gas pipeline was modernized with German assistance. It cannot be a physical obstacle, it lies underground. If we hear such statements that this is a matter of national security, let's be more specific, more specifically adhere to the facts that we specifically mean. We must say then we will have a better chance to reach understanding," said Reichel.

The topic of the GTS as a defense against Russian aggression was raised at parliamentary hearings in March. It was then that the Secretary of the Committee on the Fuel and Energy Complex, Viktoria Voitsitska, first formulated the thesis that "the very fact of the transit of natural gas through the Ukrainian gas transmission system is perhaps the most important factor holding back a full-scale military aggression from Russia."

Later, Supreme Rada Speaker Andriy Parubiy repeatedly spoke about this, which gives grounds to consider this position to be an official one.

Thus, from the Ukrainian authorities’ point of view, the GTS "protects" Ukraine as a means of blackmail by stopping the transit of gas. This is precisely what the German ambassador does not agree with.

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