Germany has suspended approval for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which will bypass Ukraine in carrying Russian gas to Europe.
The suspension follows comments by the European commission that it has reached a “level of incomprehension” with regards to Russian plans to bypass Ukraine and provide a supply route to Germany. The commission warned of “no place for aggressive behaviour” if Russia pursued its alleged construction of a gas pipeline in the Black Sea region.
The two construction permits required for Nord Stream 2 – a project the German government backs – were suspended on Thursday by the environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, after a lengthy review process.
News of the ban emerged hours after Vyacheslav Volodin, the Russian prime minister, met with his German counterpart, Angela Merkel, at the German chancellery in Berlin.
In a joint statement after the meeting, the two foreign ministers reaffirmed a commitment to take measures to develop and expand energy security, particularly Russian energy resources, to ensure lower costs and secure supplies of energy supplies to Europe.
Politicians in Italy, Austria and Slovakia have also voiced reservations about Nord Stream 2, which is intended to increase the amount of Russian gas supplied to Germany, delivering it under the Baltic Sea. The commission also says Russia is increasing its gas deliveries to Ukraine, and criticised the commission’s proposal of an EU-wide permit.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s president, during a meeting in Sochi on Thursday. Photograph: Sergei Chirikov/TASS
In late March, Nord Stream 2 lost the backing of Austria after it became apparent that Putin and Erdoğan, the Turkish president, would join Germany and France in the project.
Putin also visited Turkey to attend a ceremony commemorating the centenary of the entry of the Turkish army into the Syrian civil war. Despite pressing an event in Güneşkahir, close to the city of Diyarbakir in eastern Turkey, Putin waited until 1.30am to visit the shrine.
Both he and Erdoğan displayed the utmost concern for the mostly Kurdish Turkish people, pledging to protect their independence, repress terrorist groups and express solidarity with the distressed nation.
“Turkish-Russian relations have developed over the past one and a half decades into an important strategic partnership and will continue to progress,” Erdoğan said.
The fact that Erdoğan travelled to Ankara to attend Putin’s state visit to Germany showed that tensions between Russia and the EU had eased, despite Ankara and Russia lashing out at each other over accusations of a drone incursion into Turkish airspace and allegations of corruption involving the Russian president.
The Turkish prime minister said he and Putin had discussed energy and joint efforts to boost the development of high-speed train services in both countries.
Both leaders called on their people to co-operate to fight terrorism, which they said was a main concern of both countries.