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.

MantasAdomėnasMember of the Lithuanian Parliament
NataliaArnoPresident, Free Russia Foundation
AndersAslundSenior Fellow, Atlantic Council
MargaritaAssenovaNon-Resident Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis; Senior Fellow, Jamestown Foundation
StephenBlankSenior Fellow, FPRI.org
SolomiaBobrovskaMember of Foreign Affairs Committee, Parliament of Ukraine
MarianaBudjerynResearch Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center
JanuszBugajskiSenior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis
EtoBuziashviliResearch Associate, DFRLab, Atlantic Council
DebraCaganDistinguished Energy Fellow, Transatlantic Leadership Network
EmilyChannell-JusticeU.S. Anthropologist of Eastern Europe
YegorChernevMember of Digital Committee, Parliament of Ukraine
RyszardCzarneckiMember of European Parliament (Poland)
MatthewCzekajEditor-in-Chief, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Jamestown Foundation
OleksandrDanylyukFormer Ukrainian Minister of Finance (2016-2018); Former Ukrainian National Security Advisor (2019)
Willemde VogelChairman, Jamestown Foundation
PeterDoranFormer President, Center for European Policy Analysis
NormanEisenU.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
SofiaFedynaMember of Parliament, Parliament of Ukraine
PavelFischerChairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security, Senate of the Czech Republic
JoergForbigDirector for Central and Eastern Europe, German Marshall Fund of the United States
AnnaFotygaMember of European Parliament (Poland)
AndrewFoxhallDirector of Research, Director of Russia and Eurasia Studies Centre, Henry Jackson Society, United Kingdom
RolandFreudensteinPolicy Director, Wilfried Martens Center for European Studies, Brussels
IrynaFritzMember of Ukrainian Parliament; Member of Anticorruption Committee, Parliament of Ukraine
AlyonaGetmanchukDirector, New Europe Center
ArianaGicPolitical and Legal Analyst; Director, Direct Initiative International Centre for Ukraine
MykhailoGoncharFounder 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 MariaGresselSenior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin
AgniaGrigasNon-Resident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council
AnneHallU.S. Ambassador, ret., Former U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania
MelindaHaringDeputy Director, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council
IrynaHerashchenkoCo-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
JohnHerbstDirector, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council; Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and Uzbekistan
Hanna HopkoForeign Affairs Committee Chair, Parliament of Ukraine (2014-2019)
GlenHowardPresident, Jamestown Foundation
Toomas HendrikIlvesFormer President of Estonia
MariiaIonovaMember of Foreign Affairs Committee, Parliament of Ukraine; Former Acting Chairwoman, Committee on Ukraine's European Integration, Parliament of Ukraine
WojciechJakóbikEditor-in-Chief, BiznesAlert.pl, Poland
JakubJandaExecutive Director, European Values Center for Security Policy
DonaldJensen
RasaJuknevičienėMember of European Parliament (Lithuania); Former Defense Minister of Lithuania
DariaKalenyukExecutive Director, Anticorruption Action Center (AntAC)
JonathanKatzSenior Fellow and Director of Democracy Initiatives, German Marshall Fund of the United States; Former USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia
IanKellyFormer U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and to Georgia
SiimKiiserMember of Estonian Parliament
JamesKirchickBrookings Institution
JakubKlepalDirector, Forum 2000, Czech Republic
PavloKlimkinFormer Foreign Minister of Ukraine
IvannaKlympush-TsintsadzeChairwoman of the Ukrainian Parliament Committee on EU Integration; Former Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine (2016-2019)
MikhailKorchemkinCEO, East European Gas Analysis
David J.KramerFormer 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
TomášKriššákOpen Society Foundation
AndriusKubilusMember of European Parliament (Lithuania), Former Prime Minister of Lithuania
ZbigniewKuzmiukMember of European Parliament (Poland)
JackLaurensonUkraine-based Investigative Journalist
OleksandrLazukaMember of the City Council of Lutsk, Ukraine
MiriamLexmannMember of European Parliament (Slovakia)
JanLipavskýVice Chair of Foreign and Defense Committees, Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic
DanyloLubkivskyDeputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine and Diplomatic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ukraine (2014-2016)
EdwardLucasNon-Resident Senior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis
NatalyaLundeVice President, Free Russia Foundation
PeterLundgrenMember of European Parliament (Sweden)
Stewart MalcolmMcDonaldMember 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 PetterMidttunFormer Norwegian Defence Attaché to Ukraine
DanielMiloSenior Adviser, Globsec
KaterynaMusiienkoAssistant at European Parliament Office of Andrius Kubilius; ANTS Expert on European Integration
AnaOtilia NutuExpert Forum (EFOR) Romania
AndriyParubiySpeaker of Ukrainian Parliament (2016-2019); Member of Ukrainian Parliament; Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (2014)
ŽygimantasPavilionisDeputy Chair of the Committee on European Affairs, Parliament of Lithuania
OlenaPavlenkoPresident, DiXi Group
Nancy BikoffPettitFormer U.S. Ambassador to Latvia
StevenPiferWilliam Perry Research Fellow, CISAC, Stanford University; Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
CorinaRebegeaDirector, Democratic Resilience Program, Center for European Policy Analysis
OleksiiRiabchynAdvisor 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
AlanRileySenior Fellow, Atlantic Council
BogdanRzoncaMember of European Parliament (Poland)
JacekSaryusz-WolskiMember of European Parliament (Poland)
Benjamin L.SchmittPostdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University; Former European Energy Security Advisor, U.S. Department of State
AndrasSimonyiSenior Fellow, Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council
JohnSipherFormer Member of the Senior Intelligence Service, CIA
KaterynaSmagliyChief of Foreign Cooperation, Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine; Next Generation Leader, McCain Institute
MariaSnegovayaFellow, Center for European Policy Analysis
VladimirSocorSenior Fellow, Jamestown Foundation
RomanSohnLegal Expert; Chairman, Direct Initiative Centre for Ukraine
BohdanSokolovskyFormer Special Envoy of the President of Ukraine for International Energy Security
SergiySolodkyyFirst Deputy Director, New Europe Center
JessicaStegrudMember of European Parliament (Sweden)
AliceStollmeyerExecutive Director, Defend Democracy
MartinSvarovskyHead of Security Strategies Program, European Values Center for Security Policy
RekaSzemerkenyiSenior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis
WilliamTaylorFormer U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
RaduTudorCo-Founder, TrueStory Project Romania
AndreasUmlandSenior Expert, Ukrainian Institute for the Future
Marcel H.Van HerpenDirector, The Cicero Foundation
EgidijusVareikisMember of Lithuanian Parliament
AlexanderVershbowFormer NATO Deputy Secretary General; Distinguished Fellow, Atlantic Council
NatalyaVeselovaMember of Ukrainian Parliament (2014-2019)
NathalieVogelSenior Fellow, European Values Center for Security Policy, Prague
ViktorVovkFormer Deputy Head, Foreign Affairs Committee, Parliament of Ukraine; Member of Ukrainian Parliament (2014-2019)
AlisonWahlAssistant Professor, Ithaca College; Second-Generation Ukrainian American
WitoldWaszczykowskiMember of European Parliament; Former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs
CharlieWeimersMember of European Parliament (Sweden)
MichaelWeissDirector of Special Investigations, Free Russia Foundation
BrianWhitmoreSenior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis
OstapYednakMember of Ukrainian Parliament (2014-2019); ANTS National Interests Advocacy Network
KostiantynYelisieievDiplomatic Advisor to the President of Ukraine (2015-2019); Chairman of Ukraine's New Solutions Center NGO
Marie L.YovanovitchU.S. Ambassador, ret.; Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
OksanaYurynetsFormer Head of Ukrainian Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly; Member of Ukrainian Parliament (2014-2019)
SvitlanaZalishchukAdvisor to the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euroatlantic Integration
IlyaZaslavskySenior Fellow, Free Russia Foundation
KosmaZlotowskiMember of European Parliament (Poland)
PrzemyslawZurawski vel GrajewskiProfessor, 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.