Open Letter: For the Sake of Transatlantic Security, Stop Nord Stream 2 | Opinion

We are a group of acting and former diplomats, military and intelligence officials, and experts who have dedicated our careers to supporting Transatlantic security. We hail from countries on both sides of the Atlantic and represent a wide spectrum of political parties from our nations of origin.

Over the past decade, the Government of the Russian Federation has engaged in a litany of malign activities aimed at upending liberal democratic norms across Europe and North America. The shocking poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny by a variant of the weapons-grade nerve agent Novichok shows that Moscow has not been deterred by Western actions and statements and refuses to reverse its destabilizing political adventurism at home and abroad. And at the crucial moment of the ongoing demonstrations in Belarus for free and fair elections, Western values must be held up high.

In light of this latest malign action, which we believe can only have been carried out or sanctioned by the Kremlin, we are calling on the European Commission, and the Governments of all European Union Member States, as well as the United States, Canada, Norway, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova to take immediate action to stop the Kremlin-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

We have long supported the Transatlantic relationship and the idea of European unity, and believe Nord Stream 2 undermines both for the following reasons:

First: Nord Stream 2 is not a European project. This project was not designed to serve Europeans. From conception to implementation, the project has stood in stark contradiction to Europe's interests. It is 100 percent owned by Kremlin-controlled Gazprom. The proposed pipeline has sparked condemnation from a broad majority of governments across the Transatlantic community in the six years since its first announcement in 2015, and the European Parliament continues to call for the cancellation of the project outright. This is because politicians, national security officials, and experts on both sides of the Atlantic recognize that the project is aimed at undermining the economic and strategic security of Ukraine at the very same time that Russia is waging a hybrid war aimed at destabilizing that nation.

Second: If Nord Stream 2 were to come into operation, it would provide the Kremlin the technical capability to end or significantly diminish gas transit via the Ukrainian pipeline network, harming the Ukrainian economy overnight while removing a lever of deterrence against further Russian aggression to destabilize that nation. For those who may be quick to suggest that Ukraine is protected by the recent agreement with Gazprom guaranteeing gas transit for the next 5 years, we say this: there is no agreement that the Russians sign these days that is worth more than the paper upon which it is written. Only depriving the Kremlin of the technical capability to circumvent Ukraine will ensure that Moscow cannot wield its energy weapon to degrade Kyiv's national security.

Third: Nord Stream 2 runs counter to the European Union's own stated energy security objectives. The 2015 European Energy Union policy concept includes calls for a focus on the diversification of energy infrastructure, which entails stepping back from the current over-reliance on Russia-dominated routes. Nord Stream 2 would do the opposite, concentrating an overwhelming majority of Russian gas imports to Europe via a single channel in the Baltic Sea. Nord Stream 2 is not being developed to bring significant new gas volumes to Germany and Western Europe, as project promoters falsely claim, but is being developed to simply reroute existing gas transit to avoid Ukraine. Given this reality, we also know that the supposed linkage of U.S. or other global liquified natural gas (LNG) sales in Europe with opposition to Nord Stream 2 is not grounded in technical, political, or market reality.

Finally: Moscow has long viewed large-scale, state-owned projects like Nord Stream 2 as strategic channels to line the pockets of domestic oligarchs and cronies of Mr. Putin, while exporting unacceptable levels of strategic corruption and elite capture in the West, for example:

  1. Projects like Nord Stream 2 are used by Mr. Putin domestically as a means of enriching contractors with close ties to the Kremlin, including firms controlled by Russian oligarchs already designated under international sanctions programs.
  2. Projects like Nord Stream 2 are also used as vehicles for the Kremlin to capture and corrupt former Western officials. There are too many examples of former officials now directly employed by Russian state-owned enterprises who simultaneously advocate for Moscow's policy goals abroad.

We understand that if we really want to grapple with these serious national security concerns, we need to have a franker discussion and policy plan in the Transatlantic community to put an end to Kremlin strategic corruption of this nature.

Nord Stream 2 is not too far advanced to be stopped. We welcome the addition of prominent voices from across the German political spectrum to the choir of Transatlantic security leaders calling for Nord Stream 2 to be halted. Considering these arguments, we are calling on Governments across the Transatlantic community to:

  1. Use all possible multinational legal and sanctions tools to ensure the Kremlin's proposed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project will never be allowed to come into operation.
  2. Take joint steps to actively consider the reduction of the volume of crude oil that our nations import from Russian state-owned enterprises.
  3. Open a robust dialogue to forge new Transatlantic political norms aimed at blunting the ability of some former Western officials from becoming well-paid conduits of Russian malign influence policies following government service.

We know these steps will require sacrifice on both sides of the Atlantic, but we are convinced that when it comes to standing up to the Kremlin's aggressive behavior, we are stronger together.

All cosigners of this open letter are acting in their personal capacity, and provided institutional affiliations are listed for the purposes of identification only, and do not imply institutional support for the content of the letter.

Mantas

Adomėnas

Member of the Lithuanian Parliament

Natalia

Arno

President, Free Russia Foundation

Anders

Aslund

Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council

Margarita

Assenova

Non-Resident Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis; Senior Fellow, Jamestown Foundation

Stephen

Blank

Senior Fellow, FPRI.org

Solomia

Bobrovska

Member of Foreign Affairs Committee, Parliament of Ukraine

Mariana

Budjeryn

Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center

Janusz

Bugajski

Senior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis

Eto

Buziashvili

Research Associate, DFRLab, Atlantic Council

Debra

Cagan

Distinguished Energy Fellow, Transatlantic Leadership Network

Emily

Channell-Justice

U.S. Anthropologist of Eastern Europe

Yegor

Chernev

Member of Digital Committee, Parliament of Ukraine

Ryszard

Czarnecki

Member of European Parliament (Poland)

Matthew

Czekaj

Editor-in-Chief, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Jamestown Foundation

Oleksandr

Danylyuk

Former Ukrainian Minister of Finance (2016-2018); Former Ukrainian National Security Advisor (2019)

Willem

de Vogel

Chairman, Jamestown Foundation

Peter

Doran

Former President, Center for European Policy Analysis

Norman

Eisen

U.S. Ambassador (ret.); Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

Evelyn N.

Farkas, Ph.D.

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia; Former 2020 Candidate for Congress to Represent NY-17

Sofia

Fedyna

Member of Parliament, Parliament of Ukraine

Pavel

Fischer

Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security, Senate of the Czech Republic

Joerg

Forbig

Director for Central and Eastern Europe, German Marshall Fund of the United States

Anna

Fotyga

Member of European Parliament (Poland)

Andrew

Foxhall

Director of Research, Director of Russia and Eurasia Studies Centre, Henry Jackson Society, United Kingdom

Roland

Freudenstein

Policy Director, Wilfried Martens Center for European Studies, Brussels

Iryna

Fritz

Member of Ukrainian Parliament; Member of Anticorruption Committee, Parliament of Ukraine

Alyona

Getmanchuk

Director, New Europe Center

Ariana

Gic

Political and Legal Analyst; Director, Direct Initiative International Centre for Ukraine

Mykhailo

Gonchar

Founder and President, CGS Strategy XXI; Chief Editor, Black Sea Security Journal; Former Advisor to the Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine

Gustav Carl Maria

Gressel

Senior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin

Agnia

Grigas

Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council

Anne

Hall

U.S. Ambassador, ret., Former U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania

Melinda

Haring

Deputy Director, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council

Iryna

Herashchenko

Co-chair of European Solidarity Faction, Parliament of Ukraine; Former First Deputy Chairwoman, Parliament of Ukraine; Ukrainian President's Humanitarian Envoy to the Minsk Peace Talks

John

Herbst

Director, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council; Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and Uzbekistan

Hanna

Hopko

Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, Parliament of Ukraine (2014-2019)

Glen

Howard

President, Jamestown Foundation

Toomas Hendrik

Ilves

Former President of Estonia

Mariia

Ionova

Member of Foreign Affairs Committee, Parliament of Ukraine; Former Acting Chairwoman, Committee on Ukraine's European Integration, Parliament of Ukraine

Wojciech

Jakóbik

Editor-in-Chief, BiznesAlert.pl, Poland

Jakub

Janda

Executive Director, European Values Center for Security Policy

Donald

Jensen

Rasa

Juknevičienė

Member of European Parliament (Lithuania); Former Defense Minister of Lithuania

Daria

Kalenyuk

Executive Director, Anticorruption Action Center (AntAC)

Jonathan

Katz

Senior Fellow and Director of Democracy Initiatives, German Marshall Fund of the United States; Former USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia

Ian

Kelly

Former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and to Georgia

Siim

Kiiser

Member of Estonian Parliament

James

Kirchick

Brookings Institution

Jakub

Klepal

Director, Forum 2000, Czech Republic

Pavlo

Klimkin

Former Foreign Minister of Ukraine

Ivanna

Klympush-Tsintsadze

Chairwoman of the Ukrainian Parliament Committee on EU Integration; Former Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine (2016-2019)

Mikhail

Korchemkin

CEO, East European Gas Analysis

David J.

Kramer

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Senior Fellow, Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs, Florida International University

Tomáš

Kriššák

Open Society Foundation

Andrius

Kubilus

Member of European Parliament (Lithuania), Former Prime Minister of Lithuania

Zbigniew

Kuzmiuk

Member of European Parliament (Poland)

Jack

Laurenson

Ukraine-based Investigative Journalist

Oleksandr

Lazuka

Member of the City Council of Lutsk, Ukraine

Miriam

Lexmann

Member of European Parliament (Slovakia)

Jan

Lipavský

Vice Chair of Foreign and Defense Committees, Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic

Danylo

Lubkivsky

Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine and Diplomatic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ukraine (2014-2016)

Edward

Lucas

Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis

Natalya

Lunde

Vice President, Free Russia Foundation

Peter

Lundgren

Member of European Parliament (Sweden)

Stewart Malcolm

McDonald

Member of Parliament, Shadow SNP Spokesperson on Defense, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, House of Commons, United Kingdom

James D.

Melville, Jr.

U.S. Ambassador, ret., Former U.S. Ambassador to Estonia

Hans Petter

Midttun

Former Norwegian Defence Attaché to Ukraine

Daniel

Milo

Senior Adviser, Globsec

Kateryna

Musiienko

Assistant at European Parliament Office of Andrius Kubilius; ANTS Expert on European Integration

Ana

Otilia Nutu

Expert Forum (EFOR) Romania

Andriy

Parubiy

Speaker of Ukrainian Parliament (2016-2019); Member of Ukrainian Parliament; Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (2014)

Žygimantas

Pavilionis

Deputy Chair of the Committee on European Affairs, Parliament of Lithuania

Olena

Pavlenko

President, DiXi Group

Nancy Bikoff

Pettit

Former U.S. Ambassador to Latvia

Steven

Pifer

William Perry Research Fellow, CISAC, Stanford University; Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine

Corina

Rebegea

Director, Democratic Resilience Program, Center for European Policy Analysis

Oleksii

Riabchyn

Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration; Former Deputy Minister for Energy and Environmental Protection and Member of Parliament of Ukraine

Alan

Riley

Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council

Bogdan

Rzonca

Member of European Parliament (Poland)

Jacek

Saryusz-Wolski

Member of European Parliament (Poland)

Benjamin L.

Schmitt

Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University; Former European Energy Security Advisor, U.S. Department of State

Andras

Simonyi

Senior Fellow, Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council

John

Sipher

Former Member of the Senior Intelligence Service, CIA

Kateryna

Smagliy

Chief of Foreign Cooperation, Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine; Next Generation Leader, McCain Institute

Maria

Snegovaya

Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis

Vladimir

Socor

Senior Fellow, Jamestown Foundation

Roman

Sohn

Legal Expert; Chairman, Direct Initiative Centre for Ukraine

Bohdan

Sokolovsky

Former Special Envoy of the President of Ukraine for International Energy Security

Sergiy

Solodkyy

First Deputy Director, New Europe Center

Jessica

Stegrud

Member of European Parliament (Sweden)

Alice

Stollmeyer

Executive Director, Defend Democracy

Martin

Svarovsky

Head of Security Strategies Program, European Values Center for Security Policy

Reka

Szemerkenyi

Senior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis

William

Taylor

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine

Radu

Tudor

Co-Founder, TrueStory Project Romania

Andreas

Umland

Senior Expert, Ukrainian Institute for the Future

Marcel H.

Van Herpen

Director, The Cicero Foundation

Egidijus

Vareikis

Member of Lithuanian Parliament

Alexander

Vershbow

Former NATO Deputy Secretary General; Distinguished Fellow, Atlantic Council

Natalya

Veselova

Member of Ukrainian Parliament (2014-2019)

Nathalie

Vogel

Senior Fellow, European Values Center for Security Policy, Prague

Viktor

Vovk

Former Deputy Head, Foreign Affairs Committee, Parliament of Ukraine; Member of Ukrainian Parliament (2014-2019)

Alison

Wahl

Assistant Professor, Ithaca College; Second-Generation Ukrainian American

Witold

Waszczykowski

Member of European Parliament; Former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs

Charlie

Weimers

Member of European Parliament (Sweden)

Michael

Weiss

Director of Special Investigations, Free Russia Foundation

Brian

Whitmore

Senior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis

Ostap

Yednak

Member of Ukrainian Parliament (2014-2019); ANTS National Interests Advocacy Network

Kostiantyn

Yelisieiev

Diplomatic Advisor to the President of Ukraine (2015-2019); Chairman of Ukraine's New Solutions Center NGO

Marie L.

Yovanovitch

U.S. Ambassador, ret.; Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Oksana

Yurynets

Former Head of Ukrainian Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly; Member of Ukrainian Parliament (2014-2019)

Svitlana

Zalishchuk

Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euroatlantic Integration

Ilya

Zaslavsky

Senior Fellow, Free Russia Foundation

Kosma

Zlotowski

Member of European Parliament (Poland)

Przemyslaw

Zurawski vel Grajewski

Professor, University of Lodz and Diplomatic Academy of Poland; Counselor to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Coordinator for Security, Defence, and Foreign Policy, Chancellery of the President of Poland

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.

Open Letter: For the Sake of Transatlantic Security, Stop Nord Stream 2 | Opinion | Opinion